“The Will Steger Wilderness Center’s pilot energy projects and off-grid sustainable living are important tools for teaching and learning about environmental responsibility. The Center is partnering with the University of St. Thomas, Cummins Power Generation, and Sundial Solar to build the first micro-grid in Minnesota, providing all of the electrical power needed to make the Center self-sufficient as an example of viable carbon-free solutions and ecological stewardship. Through committed partnerships with sustainable energy companies, the Center will soon host a 20-kilowatt photovoltaic array, additional wind energy generating capacity, a biomass project and the latest advances in energy efficiency. For guests, being in the presence of pilot energy projects and off-grid sustainable living is an important teaching and learning tool and a basis for inspiration of what is possible in the realm of environmental responsibility.
All of the systems in the micro-grid can be monitored online, providing those with an interest in the day-to-day operations of the system an opportunity to observe the system remotely. This will give the Will Steger Wilderness Center a unique opportunity to use the micro-grid as a demonstration project for educational programming from K-12 level system monitoring through university level system design and application. Currently, the Center is working with the University of St. Thomas to do educational programming around the design and operation of the micro-grid, and is working with Anoka Ramsey Community College on a technical monitoring and pilot program. The micro-grid will also be an important demonstration project for decision makers visiting the Center as part of leadership retreats, demonstrating what is possible when self-sufficiency and sustainability are built into the foundation of a project.”