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Meet Great River Energy, Member of the Month

September 6th, 2017

Great River Energy (GRE) has a long history with Environmental Initiative (remember when it was Minnesota Environmental Initiative?). One of our early connections was with Energy Alley, which provided a clearinghouse of environmental information for businesses and individuals.

Energy Alley was the first collaborative effort in Minnesota to advance renewable energy and efficiency in what is now known as the clean energy sector.

Over the years, GRE has continued to support Environmental Initiative’s work, and we congratulate this fine non-profit organization on 25 very successful years of bringing together stakeholders– businesses, NGOs, government, citizens– to work toward viable solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems.


For many years GRE has been a premier sponsor of Environmental Initiative’s annual Environmental Initiative Awards event. This event brings together over 400 environmental leaders to celebrate and honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results through the power of partnership. GRE has also been a long-time sponsor of Environmental Initiative’s Legislative Preview, a Policy Forum event hosted each year. We are a member of the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition which, led by members of the business community, has worked on initiatives including growth in renewable energy for electric end uses such as electric vehicles. Through this work and outside of it, GRE views Environmental Initiative as a stakeholder in the environmental community and seeks their input.


Personally, I’ve been involved with Environmental Initiative for more than 10 years and was honored to serve on the organization’s board for nine of those years. During that time, I was able to experience a closer view of the “inner workings” of Environmental Initiative. An organization’s most important asset is its employees, and Environmental Initiative is no exception. I have always been impressed with the quality and dedication of staff. Each brings a unique skill set and vibrant enthusiasm to their job. Professionally leading the organization and thoughtfully carrying out its mission is Executive Director Mike Harley, who is celebrating his 20-year anniversary with the organization next month. Through Mike’s leadership, relationships, commitment and energy, Environmental Initiative continues to evolve and remains a highly respected organization in our community.

So, happy 25th birthday, Environmental Initiative– and here’s to 25 more fantastic years of making positive change happen for the betterment of our environment and our citizens.

Each month, we feature information about one of our members on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Seymour-Anderson anytime at 612-334-3388 ext. 8108 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Mary Jo Roth


Manager, Environmental Services at Great River Energy

Meet Great River Energy: Member of the Month

July 5th, 2016

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative which provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives located in Minnesota. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 665,000 families, farms and businesses. With $4 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota, and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States.

Great River Energy takes great pride in conducting our business with a high concern for the environment.

We are committed to conserving resources through environmental stewardship, pollution prevention, waste minimization, recycling and reuse. This dedication is demonstrated by the inclusion of environmental sustainability in our mission.

As a cooperative, Great River Energy holds commitment to community in high regard. One of the ways we do that is through re-establishing native habitat.

We are excited to be announcing a new project!HQ prairie solar.jpg

Together with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the city of Elk River, Great River Energy will be converting nine acres into pollinator prairie habitat at its Elk River campus off U.S. Highway 10. With more than 27,000 cars driving by daily, this well-traveled area is perfect for educating the traveling public about the importance of pollinator friendly, prairie plantings.

Past native prairie projects

Great River Energy, for the last decade, has invested in over 200 acres of re-established native prairie.  Some of Great River Energy’s native prairie projects include:

  • Establishing native prairie along transmission lines outside of Savage, Minn., and in the city of Ramsey, Minn., both with park systems.
  • Planting pollinator friendly habitat along Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center’s solar array and in their interpretive center in fall 2015.
  • Incorporating pollinator prairie as part of the landscape architecture at Great River Energy’s headquarters building in Maple Grove, Minn.
  • Restoring more than 120 acres of prairie near Lakefield Junction Station, Pleasant Valley Peaking Station, Cambridge Peaking Plant, and near Great River Energy’s New Prague office.

More resources

For more information about the Elk River pollinator project, visit greatriverenergy.com/elkriverbees.

For more information and links to resources about native plantings, visit greatriverenergy.com/pollinators.

Great River Energy has had a long-term commitment to Environmental Initiative. We have been a member of the Convener Partnership Circle for some time, and this year marked our ninth year as a presenting sponsor of the Environmental Initiative Awards program held each May. Great River Energy is a proud supporter of Environmental Initiative.

Mary Jo Roth


Manager, Environmental Services at Great River Energy

Meet Our Members: Great River Energy

March 3rd, 2014

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit, wholesale electric cooperative owned by its 28 member distribution cooperatives. We make electricity for those members, located across the state of Minnesota, who then sell it to the end-use customer — their members.

As a cooperative, Great River Energy believes in working together. We understand that shared dialogue is an effective way to find collaborative solutions. Environmental Initiative also believes that we can do better for the environment by working together. Both Environmental Initiative and Great River Energy recognize that partnerships are a powerful tool. This shared philosophy and approach is one reason why Great River Energy suppoSolar panels at Great River Energyrts Environmental Initiative’s work and is a member.

Great River Energy has had a long-term commitment to Environmental Initiative. We are a proud member of the Convener Partnership Circle and this is our seventh year as a presenting sponsor of the Environmental Initiative Awards program event held each May.

Several Great River Energy employees are individual members of Environmental Initiative as well, many of whom have participated as planning members or panelists in Environmental Initiative’s policy forums. I am also a member of Environmental Initiative’s board of directors and currently serve as board chair.

Great River Energy is committed to the communities in which we live and work. We have an ongoing commitment to manage our business in a way that minimizes impact to the environment. As an example, we recently announced plans to construct 650 kilowatts (kW) of new solar energy installations by mid-2015. The first construction project is a 250 kW solar array slated for land south of Great River Energy¹s headquarters facility and will include a mix of technologies to help determine how solar energy installations can be integrated into cooperative systems. The remaining 400 kW may include up to 20 individual projects located in our member cooperatives’ systems across the state.

Great River Energy is a proud supporter of Environmental Initiative.
A note from Environmental Initiative: We’ll be featuring information about one of our members each month on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Casillas at 612-334-3388 ext. 101 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Photo credit: Great River Energy.

Great River Energy’s headquarters facility, located in Maple Grove, Minn., has 72 kilowatts of on-site solar panels and a 200-kilowatt wind turbine.

Mary Jo Roth


Manager, Environmental Services at Great River Energy
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