An Inspiring Emcee
Lydia Meier, a senior at Willmar High School and vice president of Voice, kicked off the event co-hosted by the Willmar Area Climate Action Group and the Clean Energy Resource Teams. Meier shared that education, community discussion, and personal actions can be a great way to start tackling climate change.
The Power of Minnesota
The program began with a screening of The Power of Minnesota, a documentary released in late 2018 that tells stories about how clean energy is making local economies even stronger. During the discussion following the film, event attendees were surprised to learn that 61,000 Minnesotans work in the clean energy industry, that a Minnesota company shipped one third of the wind loads in the country, and that most large solar installations in the state feature pollinator-friendly plantings. Four speakers shared their experiences and resources after the discussion to provide local context for Minnesota’s clean energy economy and offer action-oriented ideas for attendees looking to lighten their footprint.
Solar & Geothermal at Home
Steve Molenaar, a retired financial professional, shared his family’s experience installing solar energy for use at their home. This year they installed a 15 kW ground-mounted solar array. The 48 panels cover all of their electricity needs. They also added a geothermal heat pump to heat and cool their home efficiently, which is also powered with the solar on their property. Molenaar and his wife are extremely happy with these systems and the companies that installed them.
Matt Baumgartner, a supply chain analyst and public utilities commissioner from Olivia, spoke about electric vehicles in Minnesota. Matt said that after driving his Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle, he’ll never go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) car again. His favorite things about driving an electric vehicle are the acceleration and torque (fun to drive), the almost nonexistent maintenance, the ability to “fuel” with electricity while he sleeps at night, the fact that he can run his car on renewable energy through his utility, and the advanced safety features. Baumgartner even offered to give attendees rides after the event.
Willmar Municipal Utility
Michelle Marotzke with Willmar Municipal Utility presented about the various ways that the utility can help customers save energy and money with both energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. She started out by sharing the Willmar’s power supply is 34% renewable and 66% carbon free. Michelle spent most of her time talking about current opportunities for the load share program and Bright Energy Solutions rebates, as well as upcoming programs to get green power through the utility and rebates for electric vehicle charging stations.
Wind near Willmar
Clean Energy Resource Teams
Dan Thiede, Communications Director with the Clean Energy Resource Teams, talked about the many different ways that his organization supports individuals and communities across Minnesota who want to get clean energy projects done.
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About the Organizers
The event was co-hosted by Willmar Area Climate Action Group and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs). The Willmar Area Climate Action Group seeks to take immediate local action to address the urgent issue of climate change and empower our community to support broad-scale solutions. The mission of CERTs is to connect individuals and communities in Minnesota to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects.
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