Duluth steam plant takes steps to reduce carbon emissions

By KBJR News 1

August 20, 2014 Updated Aug 20, 2014 at 10:11 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- About 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, according to a just released climate plan from Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board.

The study, "Our Tomorrow Starts Today," outlines the impact of climate change in Minnesota and what has been done to help reduce our carbon footprint.

Rising temperatures and devastating storms are just some of the evidence that points to climate change.

Energy leaders in Minnesota are doing what they can to stop it.

"One of the things that Minnesota has done well at is, first of all, looking at how we can be more efficient in our energy production sector. Our power plants and our utilities have done a lot of work," said John Stine, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board took a tour of the Duluth Steam Plant to learn about its goals to reduce its carbon footprint.

"One of the first initiatives that we are working on is start displacing some of that coal with wood biomass," said General Manager, Jim Green.

The steam plant uses about 50,000 tons of coal and 90 million gallons of water per year.

Managers say they are looking at other opportunities to reduce the consumption of those resources.

"If we were to convert this to a hot water system where the hot water goes out, heats the buildings, and then comes back to the plant and is reheated in a continues loop, that water consumption drops by $80,000 gallons a year," said Green.

Minnesota's Lieutenant Governor was also on the tour; and says there will be opportunities for the plant to reduce its carbon emissions.

"We could decrease our carbon emissions significantly if we could change to a combined heat and power plant and so, I think we have great opportunities as we open up Superior Street," said Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon.

In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature adopted the "Next Generation Energy Act" which set renewable energy standards.

It required the state to get 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025.

That plan also set goals to reduce greenhouse gas reduction by 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2050.

Lt. Gov., Solon spearheaded the legislation when she was in the senate and said there is still work to be done.

"The one area that we haven't met is reducing our carbon emissions. The electrical industry and automotive industry have done a great job at stepping up to the plate and cutting carbon emissions. What hasn't are the other sectors like agriculture," said the Lt. Gov.

Jim Green says they hope to convert his facility's steam line to a hot water line when Superior Street gets renovated in 2016.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.