August 6, 2019
The Minnesota Farmers Union recently held Renewable Energy Working Sessions around the state to help engage informed conversations about energy efficiency options on Minnesota farms and surrounding regions.The working sessions had a focus on the money farmers can save through renewable opportunities on their properties and how, in turn, this can make a wider impact on the community.
The Minnesota Farmers Union invited CEEM to be a part of their workshops in Saint Peter, Aitkin, and Marshall to bring our industry knowledge and share the positive economic impacts of clean energy. Here is a recap of what was discussed during these sessions and how we can continue the conversation:
Lily Osborne, CEEM’s Business Development and Programs Manager, kicked off the discussion by highlighting the impact of energy conservation in Minnesota, which has lowered Minnesotans’ energy bills by $230 million. This includes lowering non-renewable energy usage (there are $39 million in potential energy savings for Minnesota farmers per year, according to this study by GDS Associates) and the increase of clean energy jobs (there are over 61,000 workers in Minnesota to date, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report). This stimulated deeper discussions about different sectors of the clean energy economy, including electric vehicles and biomass.
Energy policy was also a hot topic during our visits. Discussion included how citizens can be involved in the conversation. In Saint Peter, this conversation included local representation from Senator Nick Frentz (DFL-Mankato) and Representative Jeff Brand (DFL-Saint Peter), who explained how clean energy policy has adapted over the past decade and where it sits today. They both encouraged those in attendance to combat misinformation and shared tips on how to further the renewable energy conversation with their neighbors and friends.
The Minnesota Farmers Union, in partnership with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc., created the ‘Farmers Guide to Solar and Wind Energy in Minnesota’ to provide farmers with clear financial, legal, and environmental energy clarity. This resource was shared at the sessions to assist farmers in making the most informed decisions about energy opportunities on their land.
At the end of the Saint Peter event, attendees were invited to a residential solar installation at the nearby Vetter farm to hear about the benefits and positive impacts the solar array has had on their property.
CEEM would like to thank the Minnesota Farmers Union for putting on these events, and for helping lead the discussion on practical ways we all can strive for a renewable energy future.