Duluth Announces Energy Pilot Project

Project Helps Move City to Mayor's 80% Emission Reduction Goal

DULUTH, Minn. – Mayor Emily Larson and other city officials announced a new initiative to reduce Duluth’s carbon footprint.

The Canal Park steam plant, Duluth Energy Systems, is going completely coal free for the next seven months.

Mayor Larson believes this pilot initiative is a big step toward her goal of reducing Duluth’s carbon emissions by 80% before the year 2050.

“It turns out that a whole laker holds about 55,000 tons and, if you brought that ship under the lift bridge and brought it in, that would be all the coal we would need for a full year, and we are going to decrease our usage by almost half a laker,” says Mayor Larson.

In addition to decreasing the city’s coal usage by 41% this year, the initiative is an opportunity for power providers to test using other energy sources.

“We will test and analyze and learn how the system can perform on natural gas during the spring and summer and we’ll use that information to plan for future operational changes and upgrades to the system that will enable the system to reduce its dependence and usage of the coal,” says Ken Smith, CEO of Ever-Green Energy, the company that operates Duluth Energy Systems.

Duluth officials hope the project will help get funding from the state to convert the steam plant into a closed-loop hot water system.

“You never know what’s going to happen with the legislature, so it’s important for us to keep making progress, keep moving forward and doing something and puts us in a position for, when the legislature sees that we’re moving, I think it helps our case when we go down to ask for money,” says Eric Birkeland, the Property and Facilities Manager for the City of Duluth.

While the initiative is going on, there will be no change in service to city utility customers. The city believes the project will be budget neutral.

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