Weather Forecast


Energy tour kicks off new initiative to diversify sources

Several different kinds of solar panels will be part of a local renewable energy tour Saturday, Oct. 6. Details of the participating sites can be found at

Last spring saw the formation of a new organization, the Park Rapids Area Energy Expansions (PRAEEx), devoted to local energy issues.

These include identifying area energy options, organizations and service providers. A tour of area energy initiatives was identified as a priority action.

The local group has combined forces with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Association (MRES) to participate in a statewide tour Saturday, Oct. 6. The statewide tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; local tour sites are open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free self-guided renewable energy tour participants will open up their homes and businesses for the public to see how solar thermal, solar photovoltaic (PV) and passive solar, as well as alternative energy technologies like geothermal heat pumps and wind turbine, can be used to reduce monthly energy bills, reduce harmful carbon emissions, and utilize tax credits and cash incentives as they improve property values.

Details on the participating sites, pictures and state/metro maps of the locations can be found at For a map of all the sites on the local tour, go to the West Central Telephone/ Zenergy website, or send an e-mail request to Fliers will also be available at shops around Park Rapids, Nevis, Menahga and Sebeka.

Area stops include:

West Central Telephone, located on Highway 71 in Sebeka, to see an off-grid wind/solar hybrid system that was tested as part of their Xcel RDF research project. Check out the data that was collected over several months on the 1 kW Kestrel wind turbine and the 1.7 fixed solar array. Find out how the system performed and lessons learned.

While in Sebeka, go three blocks east off highway 71 to see a large five-panel solar RREAL air furnace system installed at the Sebeka School bus garage to offset heating costs at that facility.

In Menahga, stop by the West Central Telephone office on Highway 71 to see a variety of solar technologies being tested, including bi-facial PV panels, a side-by-side test of two different PV inverter systems on trackers, and solar thermal air and water. Visit with NABCEP certified master electrician Clint Kyllonen to get your technical questions answered.

Local sites in the Park Rapids Nevis and Osage area include:

n Armory Square project in Park Rapids - Energy efficiency renovation, HVAC system and building envelope retrofit with plans in place for future 18kW solar PV installation;

n Bliss building - Solar thermal heating installation, Air Source Heat Exchanger system, energy efficient structures ;

n 3.44 kW Solar Photo Voltaic ground mount installation - Sailer Environmental;

n A residential 5 kW Solar PV installation- ground mount - B. Burkman;

n 125-foot tower with 20KW Jacobs wind turbine- Grid Tied - Kens Auto & Lock;

n Solar thermal air heat at a residential location,

n 2K Solar PV array / other energy efficient technologies. Grid tied, yet nearly self sufficient - R. Senk.

For further information contact Pam Mahling at West Central Telephone/ Zenergy, 218-837-5151 or Brita Sailer at 732-4562