Currently, there are there three proposed projects that fall under this category, all large-scale operations that would improve the carbon footprint of utilities in Duluth.
- The first is the aforementioned investment in Minnesota Power’s community solar program. Ideally, the City’s enthusiasm for this program will help encourage more local community solar projects in the future, further reducing the region’s greenhouse gas emissions as Minnesota Power’s fuel mix moves away from coal, oil, and natural gas.
- The second is related to the installation of solar panels on reservoir caps: coordinating the pumping schedule with solar production could significantly improve the amount of electricity that could be used on-site. Since water pumping is the single largest use of electricity in municipal operations, maximizing the amount that comes from renewable sources is that much more important.
- The third plan for utilities in Duluth comes from the steam plant. Converting the plant to produce hot water would require lower temperatures and therefore less energy, and in most cases would require no change on the customer’s end. Furthermore, the current system is open-loop, meaning steam condensate ends up in the sewer rather than being piped back to the plant for reuse. Installing a closed-loop system would allow steam or hot water to be generated using the condensate or slightly cooler water rather than from water taken directly from Lake Superior. This means the difference between initial and target temperatures would be much smaller, allowing for even more energy savings. These plans are a major part of the distribution system improvements mentioned above