The Better Energy Community is constantly growing and evolving.

Read about our latest projects and successes on our blog.

Biogas Projects Can Help Establish Energy Crop Supply

January 25, 2014 in Transportation & Fuels Author: Amanda Bilek
The U.S. biogas sector has done an outstanding job developing projects using livestock manure, landfill gas and municipal biosolids to generate clean energy. Although there is still a large amount of untapped potential to use these three feedstock sources, the use of crop residues and energy crops are completely underutilized in the U.S. biogas market. International biogas project development experience has demonstrated that the use of crop residues and energy crops are valuable feedstocks to produce increased levels of biogas and project stability.

Continue reading »

Unexpected Agreement Reached on Power Plant Regulation

January 16, 2014 in Electricity Authors: Brad Crabtree, Franz Litz

Acting on a directive from the President, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently developing draft federal regulations to guide states in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.  States will use the federal guidelines to devise plans that take into consideration state-specific and regional concerns.  Continue reading »

Midwestern Power Sector Collaborative: 2013 Recommendations to the EPA

December 6, 2013 in Reports & Whitepapers

Coal-based power companies, environmental organizations and state regulators achieved common ground on recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding potential regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants in a region that generates most of its electricity from coal.  These recommendations were developed by the Midwestern Power Sector Collaborative, which is convened by the Great Plains Institute, Pace Center and World Resources Institute. Continue reading »

The Future of Minnesota’s Electric Utilities: The Sequel

November 27, 2013 in Electricity Authors: Mike Bull, Rolf Nordstrom


Environmental Initiative’s recent policy forum on “The future of Minnesota’s Electric Utilities” drew a block-buster crowd—you would have thought they were giving away free beer. Especially for a topic as potentially dry and esoteric as the future of electric utilities, one would have expected a much smaller crowd and the deafening sound of crickets. But the meeting room overlooking the iconic Como Zoo was packed and humming with conversation. Continue reading »

Summary: Midwestern Briefing on America’s Power Plan

November 24, 2013 in Reports & Whitepapers

America’s Power Plan is a policy roadmap for dealing with disruptive challenges in the power sector and achieving a high-renewables future. Curated by the Energy Foundation in partnership with Energy Innovation, it features a series of eight white papers. As part of the rollout for America’s Power Plan (APP), the Great Plains Institute hosted and facilitated a meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 26, 2013 to brief stakeholders on the project and gather input on how components of APP could be most effectively applied to the Midwestern region. Continue reading »

North Dakota Oil Boom: Key Challenges Facing the State

November 16, 2013 in Carbon Management Author: Brad Crabtree
This week I traveled to Houston Texas to take part in the 2012 Transatlantic Science Week – Energy Technology Workshop. I gave a presentation titled – Technical and Social Challenges when North Dakota becomes the second largest oil producing state in the USA. The Great Plains Institute is working to help build continued collaboration between the energy-rich Norway and North Dakota.

Continue reading »

Biogas a Combined Heat and Power Opportunity

November 16, 2013 in Transportation & Fuels Author: Amanda Bilek

In previous columns, I have focused on the use of biogas as a transportation fuel, which holds enormous, untapped potential. However, my introduction to biogas energy systems was through projects that use biogas to produce electricity and then capture thermal energy from the generator for a useful purpose. This process is better known as combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration.  Continue reading »

Tremendous Opportunity for Increasing CHP Uptake in Midwest

November 15, 2013 in Efficiency Author: Amanda Bilek

The heading for this blog post was the key take-away message from a meeting co-hosted by GPI and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) October 21 and 22 in Chicago, Illinois. The meeting, Catalyzing Midwestern Initiatives to Accelerate Combined Heat and Power and Waste Heat to Power aimed to bring together national and state-based non-profit organizations, equipment manufacturers, developers and industry associations and government and technical service providers to facilitate networking and align interests for advancing combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to power (WHP) in Midwestern states.   Continue reading »

Diverse Group of North Dakotans to Study Legacy Fund

November 15, 2013 in News & Press

Press Release GraphicBISMARCK – A diverse group of North Dakota public, private, community and nonprofit leaders and citizens are taking part in a Legacy Fund project aimed at developing a consensus vision and recommendations for future use of the state’s growing Legacy Fund.

Convened by the Great Plains Institute, the 25-­‐member group will meet over the next several months to form their recommendations in advance of the 2015 legislative session. Community forums will be held around the state to gather input on the group’s ideas.

“The principal of the Legacy Fund could reach tens of billions of dollars by 2030 and we have the opportunity now to have a serious policy dialogue about how best to position the Legacy Fund to create the framework for leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come,” said GPI policy director Brad Crabtree.

Established in 2010 by North Dakota voters through a legislatively-­‐referred constitutional initiated measure, North Dakota’s Legacy Fund currently stands at $1.5 billion and has been projected to reach $6 billion by 2017, when Fund returns first become available for expenditure. Thirty-­‐percent of oil and gas tax revenue is deposited into the Fund.

“Through this project, North Dakota citizens will have both the opportunity and the means to chart a compelling vision for their future,” said GPI consultant and project co-­‐director Patrice Lahlum.

The group will produce a consensus white paper as a work product prior to the next legislative session that will encompass principles, strategies and priorities for the Legacy Fund.

The Northwest Area Foundation provided grant funding to support the project. A full listing of project participants can be found on the Great Plains Institute website at

Our Newsletter

Sign Up for Better Energy Community News

Sign up to receive the latest news and announcements from the Great Plains Institute.