Ground Level Reviving Minnesota Relics

Whether they want to be forward thinking, save money on energy or cut their greenhouse emissions, some Minnesota communities are trying different ways to generate power. In this hunt, everything from wood pellets and forest slash to sunlight and garbage are fair game.

Communities with small energy generation efforts or discussions.


Minnesota Biomass

– Darker green represents areas with most potential for turning wood, agricultural byproducts and other biomass into energy.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Minnesota Solar Photovoltaic

– Bright yellow shows southwestern Minnesota with the greatest potential for electrical generation from solar.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Minnesota Wind

– Purple represents Minnesota’s windiest corner in the southwest.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

How are you trying to conserve energy?

As the nation continues to debate how it should fill its energy needs, many people in Minnesota are finding unique and interesting ways on their own to generate power or heat for their homes and businesses. For example, in Grand Marais, the Angry Trout restaurant captures its kitchen exhaust and uses it to heat the restaurant’s water. In Brooten, a dairy digests cow manure to generate electricity it sells to the power company. We heard from some people in our Public Insight Network about their innovative or unusual approaches to create power or heat. Read their thoughts below. And if you have an approach to share, click here and add to the insights.

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We identify topics that are significant and complex and that play out uniquely at the local level. We want to explore those issues in which people taking action in their communities make a difference and can serve as guides for others.

Ground Level launched in early 2010 and shines a light on a variety of topics, from the growing complexity of Minnesota's local food system to cities preparing for new fiscal realities, from exurban growth in Baldwin Township to the quest to expand broadband access across the state.

We experiment with coverage on a variety of platforms. This includes text, audio and video online, of course - the Ground Level blog, a series of topics pages and social networking, for example. It also includes on-air coverage, public forums both virtual and real-world and collaboration with community-based media.

Our audience consists of Minnesotans interested in community life, particularly those who are taking an active part in it or helping others do the same.

Ground Level is very much an experiment -- in finding ways to learn about and tell stories, in working with other organizations, in walking up to the line between providing insight and advocating specific actions. Our goal is to inform and give people the ability and incentive to engage with their community. We invite your feedback and your ideas, via the blog, twitter at @MPRGroundLevel, phone calls, emails, whatever. Join us.

About the team:

Dave Peters

Dave Peters directs MPR's project on community journalism, looking for ways Minnesota residents are making their towns, cities and neighborhoods better places to live. He joined MPR News in 2009 after more than 30 years as a newspaper and online reporter and editor. Contact Dave


Bush Foundation

Support for Ground Level is provided
by the Bush Foundation.