UM faculty from IT worked with the West Central Regional Partnership to convene and conduct a study to evaluate the potential of a community based wind energy project between three municipalities.
UMN Institute of Technology
City Councils - Clara City, Maynard, Sacred Heart
In the West Central Region, an RFP went out to all communities in the region requesting a "cluster" of communities to consider the distributed energy study. At first, 30 communities responded, whereas the board refined the RFP to a "cluster". Five follow up with a "cluster" proposal in which the city of Maynard partnering with Granite Falls and Clara City was selected. At first, the city of Granite Falls was part of the process but eventually dropped out due to tornados and flood issues. Sacred Heart joined the two remaining cities a year later. Meetings were conducted with city officials, Paul Imberston and a few WCRSDP board members and staff to explore potential energy needs and development. A community meeting of 50 people also took place to inform the public on the project and possible energy ideas.
The communities selected wind as their energy resource, often referred to "winds on the flatlands" and exploration of become municipal utilities vs. current situation with Excel energy.
After several resource meetings where the communities considered energy options such as wind and forming a municipal utility, a joint city energy committee was formed and requested the Department of Commerce to erect a wind speed monitor in late 2002.
In 2004, a year's worth of data was collected and presented at a "town meeting" along with speakers including Mark Willers of MN Win I, Paul Imberston of UM IT, Lissa Pawisch of CERTS, and Jeff Haase of Dept. of Commerce. The bottom line was that the data was good enough to have a 7 year pay back. However, much of the legal and funding information was overwhelming for the community members to feel confident in taking the next step.
After struggling for another year, the three communities folded the project. However, in late 2005, a joint committee revived the project again, according to a verbal report by the Sacred Heart Mayor at a CERTS meeting.
A "white paper" was written by Paul Imberston reflecting on his experience and how it impacted his teaching. It was not the original case study paper that was part of the original goal of the project.
State Special 9,800.00