AURI’s proposal to the USDA, to launch the Center of Producer-Owned Energy, included more than 50 letters of support from agricultural and rural development organizations. Many also offered cash or in-kind match and project assistance. Now that the center has been funded and launched, some of the public and non-profit resources that can be tapped for energy research and business assistance include:
Center for Diesel Research
Affiliated with the University of Minnesota, the laboratory specializes in evaluating alternative fuels and analyzing exhaust emissions and controls. CDR was created in 1996 after the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Mines closed and the facilities were purchased by the U of M. The lab has collaborated with AURI on numerous biodiesel projects and is providing in-kind technical assistance and diesel technology to the Energy Center.
MN Soybean Growers Association
Organized under state statute, the association invests producer check-off funds in soybean research and promotion. The association has supported numerous value-added projects, including biodiesel. They are providing cash match and in-kind resources to the Energy Center. MN Corn Research and Promotion Council Like the soybean association, this council is funded by producer check-off funds. The Corn Research and Promotion Council has provided substantial support to the state’s ethanol industry. Recently it has focused on using and marketing distiller’s dry grains and other coproducts. The council is providing cash match and in-kind resources.
MN Biodiesel Task Force
Task Force members are appointed by the governor and advise the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on advancing biodiesel production and use in Minnesota. The task force also promotes biodiesel with producers, marketers, consumers and manufacturers.
Cooperative Development Services
Created and governed by the Upper Midwest cooperative community, this nonprofit helps groups that want to form cooperative businesses. Over the past three years, CDS has emphasized renewable energy and is actively involved in community ownership of wind power generation and ethanol plants. CDR is providing in-kind organizational development, market research, feasibility analysis and business planning to the Energy Center.
U of M Department of Animal Science
This department is engaged in the research and evaluation of energy coproducts such as distiller’s dry grains that can be used in livestock nutrition – particularly swine diets.
West Central Research and Outreach Center
This University of Minnesota research center in Morris, Minn. has established the Renewable Energy Research and Demonstration Center, which focuses on wind, biomass, biofuels, methane digestion, hydrogen generation and fuel cells.
Small Business Development Centers
SBDCs are located regionally and provide business planning, financial analysis, marketing and loan packaging assistance to emerging companies. Services are provided by experienced consultants, college faculty and qualified volunteers. SBDCs are providing in-kind business assistance to Energy Center projects.
Southwest Minnesota State University
SMSU will provide access to faculty and staff and offer business and financial planning assistance through the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center and SBDC. SMSU will also host seminars and producer training short courses.
Center for Research and Innovation, Bemidji State University
The center will provide outreach, training and marketing assistance for producer-owned energy projects. CRI will also help with facility layout, prototype development and engineering services. National Biodiesel Board A trade association for the biodiesel industry, the National Biodiesel Board was founded in 1993. It is comprised of farmer leaders from each state interested in furthering biodiesel production, sales, marketing and policy development.
Quentin Burdick Center
Affiliated with North Dakota State University, the center focuses on training and research related to new generation value-added cooperatives and has experience with ethanol cooperatives.
These laboratories have technology that can be transferred to producer-owned energy companies. Researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Peoria, Illinois and the Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania signed letters of support for Minnesota’s Center for Producer Owned Energy. Labs are providing services on a project-by-project basis
MN Association of Cooperatives
MAC will offer business development assistance for groups that wish to establish energy-related cooperatives.
Various regional economic development organizations and foundations have pledged assistance for developing producer-driven opportunities.