Green digest // Bakken grant

Bakken plans sustainable electricity exhibits with grant

WEST CALHOUN — The Bakken Museum in January was awarded a grant to plan new “green stations” exhibits to teach visitors about sustainable electric power.

The $2,500 grant was one of 55 Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) seed grants announced Jan. 13. The grants, funded through the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Office of Energy Security are meant to promote energy efficiency, clean energy, education and research in the state.

Bakken Deputy Director for Programs Kelly Finnerty said the award would pay for a feasibility study of renewable energy projects at the museum, including new exhibits. The museum emphasizes the science of electricity and magnetism, and new exhibits would highlight both practical and artistic uses of sustainable electric power, Finnerty said.

Indoor and outdoor exhibits may be developed through partnerships with artists who incorporate solar and wind energy into their work.

“We’re just beginning to research the artists who do this kind of work,” she said.

As envisioned, the projects would be “educational for our visitors and really get people excited about the beauty of using alternative energy sources,” she added.

Finnerty said the grant also would help Bakken staff plan for new interpretive materials for existing exhibits that feature sustainable sources of electricity. Grant funds also will be put to more practical uses, such as developing a plan for a new museum sign powered by solar energy, she said.

The CERTs project, launched in 2003, is a public-private partnership that includes the University of Minnesota, several nonprofits, state and local government and citizens across the state. Regional teams work with residents in seven regions of the state to implement local clean energy projects.

The Bakken Museum is named for electrical engineer and Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken, developer of an early pacemaker model. For information on visiting the Bakken, 3537 Zenith Ave. S., visit thebakken.org.

Learn more about CERTs at cleanenergyresourceteams.org.

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Meeting on Midtown Greenway power lines

Southwest residents who use the Midtown Greenway have a chance in February to learn more about Xcel Energy’s plans for power lines that may impact the Midtown section of the bicycle and pedestrian corridor.

A public meeting on the proposed 1.25-mile high voltage transmission line is 6 p.m. Feb. 10 at Plaza Verde, 1516 E. Lake St. Representatives from Xcel Energy and the state’s Office of Energy Security will be on hand to answer questions about the project and take public comments on a draft environmental impact statement released Jan. 8.

(The 400-plus page document on the Hiawatha Transmission Line Project is available on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission website at energyfacilities.puc.state.mn.us.)

Xcel Energy proposes to meet growing electricity needs along East Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue by running two 115-kilovolt power lines between two new electrical substations. Options for the lines include both hanging them overhead along the Midtown Greenway and burying them nearby.

The Midtown Greenway Coalition, which includes representatives from Southwest neighborhoods, opposes running the power lines above the Greenway for reasons that include aesthetics, possible health impacts and a perceived threat to development along the Greenway. The Coalition has advocated for burying the lines, but has also pushed Xcel to seek alternatives to the power lines, such as meeting area energy needs through new technologies and conservation programs.

That position won support from the City Council, when, in February 2009, it passed a resolution urging Xcel to bury the lines under East 28th Street.

At that time, Xcel representatives said running the lines underground could significantly increase the cost of the project, to $15 million from just $3 million for overhead lines. The cost of the two substations was estimated at $24 million.

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Minnesota Greenstar introduces The Conservatory

Minnesota GreenStar announced in January the launch of The Conservatory of Advanced Green Building Knowledge, a series of classes and workshops on green home building and renovation practices.

Many of the classes are geared toward professional homebuilders, architects and real estate agents, but a series of courses are open to homeowners aiming to learn more about green building techniques. Introductory course offerings included “Geothermal 101 for Homeowners and Builders” and “Green Building Principles + Energy Efficient Application.”

Homeowners will find on the Minnesota GreenStar website (mngreenstar.org/) a trove of information on green building programs and resources.