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Alternative energy will be focus of UMore meeting

Research on wind power will be the focus for the immediate future on the University of Minnesota's UMore property, but U of M officials hope to talk about a lot more than that at a July 29 public meeting.

Next week's meeting will offer some new information about a massive wind turbine to be built on the Empire Township property as part of a federally-funded research project, but Carla Carlson, executive director of the university's office for UMore Park Academic Initiatives, said there will also be talk about other sources of sustainable energy that could be used on the property as it develops.

"We want to couch that into the vision of this sustainable community and then talk about all the possibilities," Carlson said. "(We want to) ask the people who can attend, 'What might you envision the future for renewable energy in our region? What's important and of interest for you when you think about opportunities for clean energy like wind or solar or many others?'"

There will be a formal presentation from U of M employees, but Carlson said the majority of the night will be dedicated to hearing from the public.

Sustainable energy has been one of the prominent features in planning for future development on the UMore land. The university's vision for the 5,000-acre property includes a new community that could add as many as 30,000 new residents over the next 30 years.

"Renewable energy is a hallmark of the concept plan for the new community at UMore Park," Carlson said.

That focus on alternative energy sources will begin long before the first street is paved or the first basement dug. The University of Minnesota was one of three institutions in the United States to receive a Department of Energy wind energy grant to study cutting-edge wind-energy technology. The U of M will partner with Dakota County Technical College and a number of private industries on the project, which will include the construction of a 2.3 megawatt turbine on the east side of the UMore property. That turbine will stand roughly 425 feet from its base to the tip of its blade. The blades will have a diameter of about 330 feet.

The turbine should be installed in late 2010 and ready for research by early 2011. Work at the site will include investigation of topics including capturing more energy from wind, minimizing the impact wind farms have on radar and preventing ice build-up on turbine blades.

A second, smaller turbine will be built at DCTC and will be used as teaching tools for students.

The DCTC turbine will provide at least some power to the building. It does not appear the larger turbine will provide power, at least at the beginning of its life.

"Producing energy isn't the goal of the project," said Maia Hornstad, science writer at the U of M's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. "That's partly because it's going to be on and offline during the research projects."

The forum

The U of M's public forum on renewable energy will take place from 5 to 7:15 p.m. July 29 at the Rosemount Community Center, 13885 S. Robert Trail.

Much of the time at the forum will be dedicated to taking comments from the public.

The event is free but registration is appreciated because a light meal will be served. To register or for more information visit or call 612-626-3976.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606