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Reader's View: Now is the time to upgrade Duluth Steam Plant

Wonder what that tall chimney is that you see when you enter Canal Park? It's a part of the Duluth Steam Plant that has worked for over 80 years delivering steam to heat nearly 200 buildings in Duluth. We salute Mayor Emily Larson's and former-Ma...

Wonder what that tall chimney is that you see when you enter Canal Park? It’s a part of the Duluth Steam Plant that has worked for over 80 years delivering steam to heat nearly 200 buildings in Duluth. We salute Mayor Emily Larson’s and former-Mayor Don Ness’ efforts to convert the plant from steam to a closed loop hot water system.
Why is it time to change our downtown district heat system? Each year, the system takes
50 million gallons of very cold Lake Superior water, chemically treats it, heats it to 365 degrees, and sends it one way through the system. After the steam has heated buildings, the system drops 190-degree water into our sewer system where it has to be treated and returns it to Lake Superior; then the process begins anew. It’s this energy inefficiency that has required Duluth to use the cheapest, dirtiest fuel source: coal. By changing to a closed loop system, not only will we recycle the water, reducing the environmental impact, we will increase efficiency so we can take the essential first step to reduce the amount of coal used.
Now is the time to act because area streets are being upgraded, offering a unique, less-expensive opportunity to convert the infrastructure to support a closed loop system.
Please support the governor’s and mayor’s bonding request to modernize Duluth’s district heat. Encourage your legislators to support the proposed bonding bill that will make this happen and help position Duluth for a brighter energy future.
Diane Desotelle,
Melanie Grune, Sally Munger, and Bret Pence
Duluth
The writers are members of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light’s Arrowhead Regional Network.

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