- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - The city of St. Cloud has launched a project to use renewable energy to power its sprawling wastewater treatment plant.

Clean Energy Resource Teams government outreach coordinator Peter Lindstrom said that other cities are paying attention to St. Cloud’s cutting-edge methane recapture project, Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2nlJxHc) reported.

Solar panels generate electricity to keep the plant running when the sun is shining, while methane gas produced during the treatment process is captured and taken to produce more electricity.

“Quite frankly, it just makes a lot of sense,” Lindstrom said. “These wastewater treatment plants are oftentimes the biggest energy users that a local government has. And so any means by which they can cut that utility bill, they should and are looking at.”

In 2015, the city agreed to allow a private company to install solar panels on the roof of the wastewater treatment plan after officials were looking at ways to become more sustainable.

Mayor Dave Kleis said that the city actually produces more energy now than it uses annually.

“We look at in almost every aspect we can to look at reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our energy use and - bottom line for me - saving a tremendous amount of dollars for the taxpayer,” he said.

“In all likelihood, we’ll be 80 percent renewable energy by 2018,” St. Cloud public services director Patrick Shea said. “I don’t know another municipality of this size in the state that’s at that level.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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