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Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman continues statewide energy tour

September 20, 2011

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2011

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman continues statewide energy tour

Rothman assessing Minnesota’s energy marketplace, exploring new clean energy opportunities

ST. PAUL, MN – Since early June, Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman has been traveling the state, getting a first-hand assessment of Minnesota’s clean energy marketplace and infrastructure. Commissioner Rothman’s statewide energy tour is focused on: 1) exploring new opportunities to achieve Minnesota’s strategic clean energy goals; 2) positioning our state for success in an emerging clean energy economy; and 3) supporting the growth of good-paying clean energy jobs.

“Over the last several months, we have visited clean-tech startups, research facilities, and utilities across Minnesota,” said Commissioner Rothman. “The conversations we are having, and the exciting developments we are seeing across the state help give our department get a better understanding of the workers, businesses, and infrastructure that power Minnesota’s energy sector.”

According to Rothman, the tour has offered an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with Minnesotans, and have face-to-face discussions about the state’s clean energy future. “Everywhere we go, I ask people three questions: What are you doing now? What do you want to be doing in the future? And how can we work together to achieve our shared goals for Minnesota’s clean energy economy?”

Commissioner Rothman will continue his statewide energy tour this week, visiting utilities, businesses, ports, and research facilities across the state. Between September 21 and October 20, Rothman and Commerce staff will visit sites in Luverne, Morris, Virginia, Duluth, Maple Grove, and Minneapolis – among other stops.

“Each stop on this tour has helped showcase Minnesota’s abundant renewable energy resources, and demonstrated our state’s potential to harness those resources for the next generation clean energy economy,” said Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, who manages the department’s Division of Energy Resources (DER). “We are looking for opportunities to build on Minnesota’s clean energy success, while sustaining a reliable, efficient energy sector that meets the demands of Minnesota consumers.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) is charged with implementing the state’s Renewable Energy Standard in a cost-effective manner and advocating the public interest in rate cases before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). DER’s Energy Information Center provides one-on-one consultation to help Minnesota consumers and businesses achieve energy savings through conservation and efficiency improvements. DER programs and staff also direct the use of federal funds to help low income families manage their energy costs.

Energy Tour Schedule

The following schedule highlights some stops on Commissioner Rothman’s statewide energy tour between September 21 and October 20. Additional events are in the process of being arranged.

During the energy tour, please contact Peter Brickwedde with any press inquiries. Peter can be reached by phone at (651) 283-2654 or by email at peter.brickwedde@state.mn.us.

Wednesday, September 21 – Lakefield Wind Project
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour the Lakefield Wind Project from 11:15am – 12:15pm. The project is expected to be operational this fall.

Wednesday, September 21 – Xcel Wind to Battery Project in Luverne, MN
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour the Xcel Wind to Battery Project in Luverne, MN from 1:30pm – 3:30pm. The project, operated by Xcel Energy, is designed to test new technology for storing wind energy in batteries.

Wednesday, September 21 – Xcel Buffalo Ridge Transmission Repair in Lake Benton, MN
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will get a first-hand look at repairs being made to Xcel Energy’s Buffalo Ridge transmission lines near Lake Benton, MN. The visit will last from 4:00pm – 4:45pm.

Thursday, September 22 – University of Minnesota, Morris Campus
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour various renewable energy projects currently underway at the University of Minnesota, Morris from 1:00pm – 3:00pm. The tour will include a demonstration of the campus’ renewable hydrogen and ammonia pilot plant, solar thermal systems used to heat and cool campus buildings, the campus’ biomass gasification system, and anaerobic digestion systems at two local dairy farms.

Tuesday, September 27 – Silicon Energy in Mountain Iron, MN
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, state Sen. David Tomassoni, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour Silicon Energy’s solar PV module plant at the Renewable Energy Industrial Park in Mountain Iron, MN from 11:00am – 1:00pm. The park was created with funding from the City of Mountain Iron, state bonding funds, and grants from the IRRRB and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Tuesday, September 27 – Laurentian Energy Authority in Mountain Iron, MN
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, state Sen. David Tomassoni, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour the Laurentian Energy Authority’s Biomass Wood Yard in Mountain Iron, MN from 1:00pm – 2:00pm. The yard supplies biomass fuel to the public utilities in Virginia and Hibbing.

Wednesday, September 28 – Duluth Port Authority
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, Duluth Mayor Don Ness, and state Sen. Roger Reinert will hold a press availability at the Duluth Port Authority at 8:30am. Rothman, Grant, Ness, Reinert and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour the Port Authority from 9:00am – 11:00am. The tour will highlight the Port Authority’s involvement in handling energy-related cargoes – particularly the high volume of wind-related infrastructure and materials shipped through the port.

Wednesday, September 28 – Minnesota Power in Duluth, MN
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour Minnesota Power’s Thomson Hydro Energy Center Wednesday afternoon. The Thomson Hydro Energy Center is Minnesota Power’s largest hydroelectric plant and the largest hydro facility in the state.

Tuesday, October 4 – Great River Energy in Maple Grove, MN
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will tour Great River Energy (GRE) headquarters in Maple Grove, MN from 9:30am – 11:30am. GRE owns and operates 11 power plants which generate more than 2,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity, serving 1.7 million customers. GRE owns and operates 4,500 miles of transmission lines and 100 substations.

Tuesday, October 4 – Community Action of Minneapolis
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will visit Community Action of Minneapolis from 1:00pm – 3:30pm. The tour may include a visit to a Minneapolis home that has been retrofitted through the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

Thursday, October 20 – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
Commissioner Mike Rothman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant, and Minnesota Department of Commerce staff will visit the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus from 9:45am – 2:00pm. Commissioner Rothman and Deputy Commissioner Grant will meet with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, and then tour the University of Minnesota’s energy research and development facilities. Following the tour, representatives from the NorthStar Initiative and the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) will present an overview of their efforts at the University.