University of Minnesota

Lieutenant governors lead U of M-sponsored study tour to Germany on regional economies, renewable energy

July 10, 2012

A high-ranking delegation of experts from Minnesota and Iowa are in Germany this week to study energy and power systems, with a goal of finding solutions that can help meet both states’ needs. The delegation will meet with members of Germany’s economics and environment ministries.

The trip is organized by the University of Minnesota’s Center for German and European Studies in cooperation with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Germany’s Foreign Office.

Delegation members have a full schedule of activities while in Germany, including:

  • Comparing German energy and heating systems to those in the U.S.
  • Learning how renewable energy fits into Germany’s energy mix
  • Examining how Germany has tackled retrofitting very old buildings to make them energy-efficient
  • Test-driving a hydrogen car produced by Audi and Mercedes Benz, which may have relevance to using renewable energy in U.S. transportation planning
  • Visiting a hybrid power plant that makes artificial methane that can be stored in Germany’s existing natural gas pipeline system
  • Visiting the village of Feldheim, which is attempting to become completely energy self-sufficient without giving up modern conveniences (Feldheim generates all its own energy using solar, wind turbines and biofuels)

Why Germany?
Germany is a world leader in renewable energy adoption. Its landmark renewable energies act of 2000 provided the spark for a tremendous boost of investment, generated new jobs and became a model for many other countries interested in securing reliable energy supplies at an affordable cost.

The state of Brandenburg, located in the eastern part of the country, is the site of the world’s first hybrid power plant and is recognized as an innovative leader, especially in renewable energy.

Who is attending?
The 15-member delegation consists of a bipartisan group of elected and government officials, academics and industry representatives from Minnesota and Iowa, including:

  • Yvonne Prettner Solon, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor
  • Kim Reynolds, Iowa Lieutenant Governor
  • Steve Kelley, director, Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • Steven Taff, professor of applied economics, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota
  • Lewis Gilbert, associate director, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
  • David Boyd, commissioner, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
  • Libby Jacobs, commissioner and chair, Iowa Utilities Board
  • Phyllis Reha, commissioner and vice-chair, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
  • John Marty, Minnesota state senator
  • David Tomassoni, Minnesota state senator
  • Robert Ambrose, governmental affairs, Great River Energy
  • Michael Cashin, environmental policy manager, Allete/Minnesota Power
  • Carmen Kristan, economics department, German Embassy at Washington D.C.
  • Rolf Nordstrom, executive director, Great Plains Institute
  • Ken Smith, president and CEO, District Energy St. Paul, Inc.

The seminar is a special project of the University of Minnesota’s Center for German and European Studies and the Humphrey School's Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, and a group of international partners including Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Economics and European Affairs of the State of Brandenburg and the German Academic Exchange Service. Funding is provided through a special German grant that fosters transatlantic exchange and commemorates George Marshall.

The interdisciplinary Center for German and European Studies at the University of Minnesota is one of six centers of excellence created in the United States with German government support. Since 2011, it hosts the public-private “Regional Economies and Renewable Energy Policy” project, an exchange on best practices and experiences between Germany and states in the Midwest electric power region.


Twin Cities Campus: