MINNEAPOLIS – A recent survey conducted by Conservation Minnesota of Rochester Residents found a very clear interest among respondents at finding ways be more deliberate with the city’s energy choices. The full results of the study will be presented at tonight’s Rochester Energy Commission meeting.
A total of 1,561 area residents responded to a mailed survey and answered seven questions that focused on current and future energy use within the city. The two questions that received the strongest support were about city initiatives to encourage walking, biking and mass transit as a way to cut fuel use and pollution, and another about the city working to support efforts to increase the statewide target for the percentage of renewable energy that is used in our overall energy production.
Nearly 70 percent of Rochester residents supported the decision by Rochester Public Utilities to host the Neighborhood Energy Challenge which helped residents not only better understand their electricity usage, but also identify opportunities to become more efficient. A similar percentage supported an idea that has been floated that would see the city tap renewable energy sources for any and all energy usage that exceeds current citywide levels.
With Rochester being home of one of the nation’s preeminent medical facilities, there was also strong support for moving away from using coal as a primary source for the city’s electricity. Burning coal has been linked to increased mercury in lakes, asthma and heart disease. But that question also sparked some confusion, as several residents brought up the fact that the city’s Silver Lake Coal Plant is closing. While this is correct, the energy Rochester uses still comes primarily from coal fired plants elsewhere.
“Rochester residents are clearly interested in clean energy, and we hope this information is useful to residents and city leaders working to address some of these issues,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota. “With Rochester holding such ambitious plans for expansion, it seems like a great opportunity to have the energy needs and preferences of the region be a part of the discussions from the very beginning.”
In coming weeks, the results of the survey will be shared with the Rochester Public Utilities and Destination Medical Center boards as well.
MORE INFO: For more information on the survey or to set up an interview with Paul Austin, please contact Nate Dybvig at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 651.230.3018.