Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for January, 2012

Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission announce the recipients of the 2011 Environmental Achievement Awards.  The recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 26 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2011 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The 2011 recipients are:


Byron Stadsvold

From the mid 1980’s to the present, Byron Stadsvold has been an instrumental volunteer at Oxbow Park and the Zollman Zoo.  He has designed exhibits and other structures at the zoo utilizing local resources, provided design guidance for remodeling trail bridges, helped with routine zoo chores, and served on The Friends of Oxbow Park board of directors.  Byron’s work designing exhibits and animal enclosures like the wildcat and wolf exhibits at the Zollman Zoo has given local visitors the unique opportunity to learn about native Minnesota species in their natural environments.


Norrie MacIlraith

Norrie MacIlraith inspires others to be more environmentally responsible through her work with the Olmsted County Master Gardener program and as coordinator of their rain garden and storm water management projects.  In 2009, she designed and installed a 240 square foot rain garden at her home, and uses it as an opportunity to share her knowledge and experience of rain gardens and landscape beautification and their role in preventing pollution and conserving water. 


Jack Remick and the Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center

With the vision and funding provided by Jack Remick, the Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center opened in 2011 to serve as a regional resource for environmental education and to increase the literacy of participants on environmental topics such as sustainable communities, renewable energy systems, water, and wetlands.  Mr. Remick designed the building and grounds to demonstrate sustainable practices that balance societal, economic, and environmental needs by reducing energy and water consumptions, mitigating storm water impacts, and protecting the restored wetlands.  Since opening in June 2011, Cascade Meadow has already reached over 5,500 people!


Weiss Family: John, Debbie, Johnny, Charles & Angela

The Weiss Family has been involved in environmental volunteerism and in teaching the value of southeastern Minnesota’s natural history over the past 30 years.  They volunteer their time teaching about the value of Minnesota’s native plant and animal habitat, about resource management challenges, and help in animal rehabilitation.  They also fundraise for local environmental causes, monitor water quality in the Zumbro River, and volunteer at our local parks helping with clean-ups, trail work, tree planting, and collecting native seeds.


First Homes

Rochester Area Foundation First Homes has established broad green building policies to guide its development of workforce housing.  While also working to engage residents to create sustainable neighborhoods through long-range visioning, First Homes has completed 10 Green Communities Certified Substantial Rehabilitation projects, and recently completed the first LEED for Homes Silver multi-family building in southern Minnesota.

Pace Dairy

In 2011, Pace Dairy established a sustainability team to achieve its vision of developing a company-wide effort to reduce their waste stream and become more energy efficient.  The team provides leadership, education, inspiration, and support to incorporate environmentally responsible practices that are integrated into their manufacturing operations.  Since the inception of the program, Pace has reduced the company’s overall energy usage by nearly 13%.  They’ve done that by making operational and equipment changes and by encouraging all employees to identify energy saving ideas.

RNeighborWoods and Friedell Middle School

In the Spring of 2011, RNeighborWoods worked with students and staff at the Friedell Middle School to create a flourishing butterfly garden and outdoor classroom at the entrance to their school.  The project was an exciting mix of partnerships including financial and material help from Olmsted County, the City of Rochester, the Rochester Pond and Garden Tour, Seneca Foods, and Herring EcoLogistics.  Friedell students now use the garden as an outdoor learning space to develop their observational and experimental skills and they extend the impact of the project through presentations about the garden and the native plants it contains.

Summer of Service Program

Since 2005, the Rochester Community Education’s Summer of Service (SOS) program has partnered with the City of Rochester and many other community agencies to implement a variety of service learning projects designed to properly manage storm water and protect local water resources.  Over 400 students have participated in the last seven years, contributing over 500 hours of service.  Students have helped create a rain garden, planted native plants, marked over 1,000 storm drains, and placed more than 1,800 storm water education door hangers at homes and businesses.  During this time the students have also collected nearly a ton of trash.



For more information on energy conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit 


About Rochester Public Utilities


As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 47,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 36,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.




Beware of energy mailers!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Energy mailers are hitting the mailboxes again in Rochester. If you receive a mailer offering ways to save you money on your utility bills, we highly recommend using caution. If you have specific questions about your energy use, RPU customer service is available to help! Call 507.280.1500 during normal business hours.