Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Clean energy focus of LEED tour


August 17, 2017

Lois E. Johnson

The sets of panels in the solar array cover five acres near Black Bear Casino.

People interested in clean energy toured the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified quarters for the Fond du Lac Band's Resource Management Division as well as the one megawatt solar array near Black Bear Casino on Wednesday, August 9.

The program was sponsored by the Northeast Clean Energy Resource Teams.

Shannon Judd, Environmental Outreach Coordinator for Fond du Lac Resource Management, spoke about the features of the resource center building.

"The building is designed to get as much light into it as possible," she told the tour group. "Big windows face south, but we found there was too much light. We planted ivy to filter the amount of light coming into the building."

On the second floor, Judd pointed to reflective tubes that bring in light from skylights to light the hallway.

"There are no lights on," she said. "All of the light is coming through the skylights."

Lights in each room are on sensors, Judd explained. The lights come on automatically when a person enters a room. If the person presses the switch and turns the lights on manually, they have to remember to turn the light off when they leave the room.

"That saves a lot of energy," she added.

Three bins of worms are stored in a locker room. Organic food scraps are mixed with the soil, and the worms use the food to generate juice.

"The students sell the juice to gardeners," said Judd. "I have gotten a plant to bloom that hadn't bloomed in years after I gave it some of the juice. It is very potent; it has to be greatly diluted, but gardeners love it."

Judd added people who want to purchase the juice must call the resource center first to determine if there is any available.

An office area had cubicles for the workers in the various programs. Judd explained 60 people work for resource management.

The group then drove to another location, where the band's propane tanks and one megawatt solar array are located.

The presenter explained it would have cost $100,000 to install a power line. They worked with Minnesota Power to set up the array of solar panels. They also received a grant from Minnesota Power.

It was sunny that day, and an engineer said the panels were generating 50 percent of the electricity used by the casino at that time. The panels generate 10 percent on average. The solar panels are made of monocrystaline and come from a company in Taiwan.

It was asked if the solar panels move to track the arc of the sun.

The engineer answered that those tracking panels do not work in Minnesota. Moisture gets into the mechanism and freezes during the winter. All of the panels are stationary.

Cameras monitor the site of the propane tanks and the solar array, which are located in a former gravel pit, said the presenter. He also said most of the materials used on the reservation are recycled.

"You are standing on the old casino," he said. Bits of concrete could be seen spread on the ground. "Recycled wood is used as compost where we have a prairie restoration. Wildflowers are planted there."


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