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June 2013

Minneapolis' Metro Brings Wind-Powered Rail Travel

As part of its Go Greener program, Minneapolis’ Metro Transit powered its Hiawatha light rail trains free of emissions with wind energy on Earth Day.
The 10 wind-powered railcars traveled during the a.m. peak period and served 19 stations, providing about 31,000 rides.

The transit system bought approximately 71,000 kilowatt hours of wind-generated electricity from energy supplier Xcel Energy’s Windsource program to power the rail line for one day.

Windsource portions some of its wind power into blocks, sells them to consumers and businesses, and reinvests the revenue into new wind energy, John Siqveland, public relations manager, Metro Transit, explained.
In 2008, Siqveland spotted the opportunity to introduce riders to the idea that wind, as he put it, “doesn’t just drive sailboats.”

“You can subscribe to the Windsource program at any time,” Siqveland said. “It just struck me that if local companies, residents and universities can use this program, why can’t we do it and talk about the flexibility of fuel sources to power electricity and say something on Earth Day about the flexibility of light rail? Rail can move 31,000 people a day, essentially with power generated from turbines.”

Xcel recently surpassed its one billionth kilowatt hour through the Windsource program.

Metro Transit and Xcel officials also commemorated Earth Day in the morning at a customer outreach and appreciation event at Xcel’s headquarters, which are located just around the corner from Nicollet Mall light rail station in downtown Minneapolis, Metro Transit’s busiest light rail station.

Xcel executives and Metro Transit GM Brian Lamb spoke with riders and downtown residents and workers about the “Go Greener” and Windsource programs. Attendees were able to sign up for Windsource program at the event. A few hundred people attended the customer appreciation event, Siqveland said.

Meanwhile, Peace Coffee, one of the local businesses offsetting all of its operations with Windsource, gave out free coffee to Metro Transit customers and downtown residents and workers.


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