Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sounds Like a Utility, but Not a Utility

Map of Minneapolis showing Linden Hills location in southwestern cornerWhat if neighbors everywhere took on the challenge of global warming?

The residents of the southwestern Minneapolis neighborhood who started Linden Hills Power and Light are doing just that. Starting small, with a "bike to school" campaign and compact fluorescent bulb giveaway, they have moved on to initiating collection of "source separated organics" from homes in the neighborhood.

This means that everyone separates their organic refuse from inorganic refuse—which would allow the organics to be composted, or even better, converted to energy.

How can the material be converted to energy? By using an anaerobic biodigester. The first time I heard that term, my eyes glazed over, as I imagine yours are now. But it's a really cool technology that converts garbage to methane for energy and other byproducts that can be used in agriculture.

The process uses specialized bacteria that (in a sense) eat the waste and emit methane. This takes place in a sealed chamber without any oxygen.

An April 28 story in the Star Tribune featured LHPL, although I first heard about it in the December/January Rollin' Oats (the newsletter of Linden Hills Co-op).

LHPL inspires me to take action. It's "just" a bunch of people in a neighborhood, after all. And they're really doing something. As the sign says in the LHPL office, "We are the people we've been waiting for."

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