"Goal: 100% Renewable Energy use at Prairie Woods by 2010," is what the PWELC newsletter states. And I believe it! Earlier last week, I met Dave Pederson, Executive Director at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, in Spicer, Minnesota. On this cold and snowy (yes, still snowing here) day I pulled into the long driveway at PWELC, and stopped within a few feet. The view of the wind turbine was spectacular! I jumped out of my car and snapped a photo. I will have to take new photos and post on a later day due to an unfortunate incident when transferring them to my computer. Anyway, on with the energy story. This 20-kw Jacobs Wind Turbine was installed last year in hopes that it will provide for about 60% of PWELC electric needs.
Further up the driveway, a solar panel sits on a trailer in the yard, waiting for sunshine to spark it up. This portable panel gets connected to the learning urts for lights and fans. Closer to the buildings, I pass a 400 bushel corn hopper that PWELC uses to fire a large corn boiler that heats two on-site buildings. This burner uses about 4-7 bushels of corn each day. The cost was about $9,000 and they anticipate it will pay for itself in 3 years; already they have seen savings from using corn over propane this winter. Dave said it's been a learning experience to increase efficiency, but that's what PWELC hopes to do; learn and share their experiences with others interested in using renewable energy for their personal or commercial use.
And this is just the beginning of their renewable energy story. PWELC utilizes composting toilets, airsource heating and cooling, corn stoves when necessary, and recently purchased a Fuelmeister Biodiesel Processor to make their own transportation fuel.