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Red Wing asked to share clean energy success

Jessica Looman (front row, wearing a red blazer) asks Red Wing Sustainability Commission member Rich Huelskamp a few questions June 5, 2018, following his presentation on the Red Wing Energy Education Center, now Minnesota State College Southeast. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman was in Red Wing on Monday, June 4, to learn from local leaders about Red Wing's successful advancement of a clean energy agenda in a rural community.

Red Wing received a Minnesota Clean Energy Community Award in 2018 for its Green Wing Energy Action Plan. Red Wing also will soon receive recognition as a Step Five City by the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program, making it one of only 10 in the state to demonstrate leadership and improvement along certain green energy metrics.

Looman and her team were able to ask questions and learn from presenters during an afternoon session at City Hall. Speakers included Sustainability Commission Coordinator and Goodhue County Commissioner Paul Drotos, Mayor Sean Dowse, Sustainability Commission member Rich Huelskamp, City Council member Evan Brown, Jay McCleary, Red Wing School District Technology Manager Kevin Johnson and Paul Cardinal.

Looman asked how other rural areas, without Red Wing's technological history and groundswell of environmental activism, could begin to pull off this kind of investment in the clean energy economy. Huelskamp said education was the way and Bill Gehn, Sustainability Commission member and Xcel Energy employee, agreed. Gehn added that more education is needed to promote personal accountability through driving an electric vehicle and signing up for Xcel's Windsource program, or other green energy alternatives.

The visit concluded with a tour of several downtown solar installations and Red Wing's 5Mw solar garden, located at Red Wing High School.