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Southeast Minnesota digest

Southeast Minnesota: Six clean energy projects get funding

Six clean energy projects in the region are among 32 in greater Minnesota to receive technical assistance funding through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Blandin Foundation.

The funding awards were announced this week by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERT), a joint program of the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Southwest Regional Development Commission, the Minnesota Project, Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Green Institute. Members of CERT work together to identify and implement community-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state.

Projects in the area that will receive funding include solar photovoltaic projects at Winona Senior High School and the Northfield School of Arts and Technology, a feasibility study of micro-hydro power system at Pickwick Mill, assistance to develop a regional energy fair in Austin, a study of baseline environmental and wildlife conditions as part of the Prairie Sustainable Bioenergy Project and an off-grid cold storage project.

Goodhue County: Belvidere Township subject of exhibit

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Belvidere Township in Goodhue County will be the subject of a new history exhibit opening next month.

The exhibit at the Goodhue County History Center will be the fourth in a series focusing on townships. An open house for the exhibit of photographs and artifacts will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2.

The northern part of the townships was homesteaded first because of the water power supplied by Wells Creek. It was there that Nelson B. Gaylord settled and built a flour and grist mill in 1861. He named the developing community Belvidere Mills, taking the name from Belvidere, Ill.

Immigrants from Ireland and Luxembourg settled the southern part of the township near Bellechester, where a deposit of clay was discovered in 1911.

St. Charles: Residents can expect electric rate increase

St. Charles residents and businesses will see an increase in their basic electric rates.

The city recently signed an agreement with Dairyland Power that will cost the city $44.25 per megawatt hour. It had been paying $38.25 per megawatt hour as part of a bridge agreement. Before that, the city was paying Alliant Utility in the high $20 range, said City Administrator Nick Koverman.

Rates rose because of higher transmission rates and deregulation of the industry.

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Because of the increase, residential rates will go up 17 percent; business rates also will rise, though how much depends on size, he said. That will put St. Charles’ rates in the middle compared with other towns in the region, he said. It was once one of the lowest rates.

Faribault: DNR seeks public input on management plan

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on a new management plan for Sakathal Lake State Park between Faribault and Waterville.

You can help by completing a short survey at www.dnr.state.mn.us, click on state parks, then Sakatah and you will see the survey under "park notes."

The survey can be done through Jan. 29. The draft management plan will be available Feb. 5 and there will be a public open house at the park Feb. 21.

The plan will guide development of the park for the next 20 years. Those who want to learn more can call Colin Kelly, (651) 259-5606 or at colin.kelly@dnr.state.mn.us.

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