The Pronto Pups of Tomorrow Will Be Fueled by Wind Energy

August 26, 2010

We welcome today’s guest post by Mary Anne Welch, marketing and community outreach manager for Windustry.

The “12 Days of Fun” starts today at the Minnesota State Fair, and if you go with comments on the Fair’s Facebook page, most people will first eat a Pronto Pup or a corn dog.

It’s what I always do, preferring the corn over the wheat. But then what?  To me, the State Fair is entirely about feeling good. It’s the state-sponsored feel good event: feel good about our land, our resources, our neighbors and our ingenuity. (Yes, I look past the grease and obesity.)

That’s why the Eco Experience has been a destination point for me since it opened in 2006. The exhibit, sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, has something new every year designed to inspire us to lead more sustainable lives and improve our quality of life and the environment.  The exhibits look past disasters and warning signs to solutions for renewable energy and ideas we can all take part in.

Last year, one in five state fair visitors stopped at the Eco Experience. That’s up there with the Miracle of Birth Center, the most popular exhibit at the fair.

A visitor explores the base of a wind turbine at last year's Eco Experience

This year, along with leading-edge displays on renewable energy, new fuels and vehicles, and organic farming, the Eco Experience features a Green Street, a mini-version of a walkable neighborhood with community space, rain gardens, and a carport and electric car charging station.

But instead of taking in the Eco Experience as a visitor, I’ll actually be working there this year. I recently took a position with Windustry, and we’re presenting the Wind Energy Center, complete with wind turbines and computer mapping for wind speeds throughout the state.

I’m looking forward to wearing an “Energy on a Stick” T-shirt, working alongside volunteers to talk to people about Minnesota wind as a natural resource to harvest for renewable energy — one that addresses climate change and energy insecurity, and that can be a source of robust economic development for rural communities.

I asked my colleagues who have done this before what to expect. According to them, these are the top questions I can expect. From city dwellers: Can I put a turbine on my house? From rural residents: Can I put a turbine on my land?  From both: What are the job opportunities?

Answers: 1. Don’t try it. 2. You betcha. 3. Many, and it’s a growing field. (If you want to know more, stop by the Wind Energy Center! )

But my co-workers emphasized that many questions are new. The future is now, when it comes to renewable energy technologies. Asking questions is what we all need to do in order to discover the best ideas. 

The Eco Experience is located in the Progress Center building (J-9 on map) at the corner of Cooper Street and Randall Avenue. Stop by and say hello!