Small towns and energy focus of symposiumby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Energy will be the main focus of a two-day conference that begins Tuesday at the University of Minnesota-Morris.
The sixth annual Symposium on Small Towns will help rural community leaders with ways to make their governments and schools more energy efficient.
Ben Winchester with the university's Center for Small Towns said the conference will also cover how small towns could make their own energy locally through biomass and wind turbines.
"Our small towns are at a real unique crossroads here and an opportunity to provide services to their community residence that normally they wouldn't have an opportunity to do even 10 years ago," Winchester said.
The University of Minnesota Morris campus itself is working toward energy self-efficiency. Currently the campus is powered in part by a wind turbine.
Campus officials say they want the school to be carbon neutral within a few years, through the construction of green buildings, a biomass burner and energy conservation.
Winchester said the goal of the conference is to present small town leaders with ideas.
"These are the groups that tend to have longer periods of time in between decision making and implementation," Winchester said. "With these institutions, creating energy efficiencies within their organizations we believe that this ultimately leads to changes in behaviors in the community as well."
This is the sixth year the University of Minnesota has hosted the Symposium on Small Towns.