Good news from the heartland

Morris, Minnesota has won a prize!

The Morris Model team was recently notified that they were among 67 winners in the first phase of the $6.7 million Energizing Rural Communities Prize. The competition was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and is focused on supporting innovative partnership and finance plans to help rural or remote communities develop clean energy demonstration projects.

The Morris Model will receive a $100,000 prize, in-kind-mentorship services, and eligibility to compete for another $200,000.

This prize, managed by DOE Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), challenges individuals and organizations to develop partnership and financing strategies that support community-driven energy improvement projects in rural or remote communities.  The Morris Model Partnership seeks to make Morris a model rural sustainable community through clean energy and community resilience.

The DOE has a nice logo to go with it.

Yep, that looks like us. Except you’d have to erase the mountains and hills, and paste in a lot more cornfields.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    “Model” is elitist talk, like those librul professors.
    “sustainable”, “clean” and “resilience ” are all typical woke buzzwords.
    Patriotic energy requires high-lead gasoline and high-sulfur oil. And no goddamn filters.

  2. says

    That award and project could be so very helpful. I hope it will benefit rural communities. I hope I’m being a skeptic and not a cynic in that I have some concerns about energy plans. Here in Scarizona (and elsewhere, I’m sure) the big energy utilities push their prices up to maximize profit and they put money into massive wind, photovoltaic and batteries to enhance their profit. Any ‘partnerships’ they accept will all be parasitic not symbiotic with the client. That, and the fact that they pay people whose roof top panels send electricity back into the grid a tiny fraction of the kwh price, pushes their energy generation prices down and further maximizes their profit. And, there are crackpots pushing for SMR’s Small Nuclear Reactors to be put on every block. They are still only playing with impractical ‘laboratory’ setting prototypes, production ready units to install are many years away, and the huge cost in money, wasted cooling water, waste heat and lots of nuclear waste piling up are a disaster waiting to happen.

  3. says

    In case it isn’t obvious, the electric utility strategy is to bleed the consumer to fund the utility’s ‘green energy’ growth so the consumer can’t afford (and won’t benefit from) any personal ‘green energy’ system. Also, another critical element that I have tried to communicate (but few seem accept) is that the massive grid is inefficient (10%-20% energy losses in transmission/distribution) and prone to disruption. If local generation (photovoltaic, wind, etc. with batteries and emergency propane generator backup in most buildings with local connections only) were used, it would be more efficient and reduce widespread blackouts. It would also free people from being captives to big, abusive, greedy utility corporations.

  4. wzrd1 says

    shermanj @ 5, actually, the power companies never got the infrastructure to incorporate excess from solar panels to be added to their system, so it’s shed and goes unused.
    As for “neighborhood reactors”, odd to hear they’re experimental, as there was a GE model available 20+ years ago. A molten lead model, once the fuel was done, the lead froze and the whole mess had to be dug up and replaced.

    As for the grid being inefficient, yeah, much is lost in wires. But, try transmitting bulk power without wires, the losses approach 97% in most cases as range increases from the transmission point. Local generation sounds good, right until a large apartment building catches fire from a battery failure and explosion. But, being incinerated will free people from being captive to anything, even life.

  5. says

    @7 wizard said: ever got the infrastructure to incorporate excess from solar panels to be added to their system, so it’s shed and goes unused.
    I reply: interesting, a neighbor having panels installed was told by the electric utility worker that the large number of panels pushing electricity into the grid was reducing their need to increase daytime generating capacity. Maybe misinformation floating around.
    @7 wizard said: until a large apartment building catches fire from a battery failure and explosion
    I reply: you are right, if the wrong type of batteries are used and are clustered tightly to cause overheating or have bad BMS (battery management system). However, there are battery chemistries that don’t have thermal runaway problems, eliminating the fire risk. And, some have very a long service life.
    @7 wizard said: transmitting bulk power without wires . . . 97% loss
    I reply: I’m sure you are correct about that (was a Nikola Tesla dream). I wouldn’t want to transmit any further than 1 sq, mile and with copper not aluminum wires.

  6. billseymour says

    shermanj, your mention of long-distance transmission lines got this former electronics technician wondering whether there’s any significant skin effect at 60Hz; and I got sent down an internet rabbit hole learning about the pros and cons of AC vs. DC transmission lines and the various designs for high power rectifiers and inverters.  I now know very much more that I really want to. 8-)

  7. wzrd1 says

    To feed energy back through one’s tie-in, one would have to precisely match voltage, phase and frequency of the prime power. Energy company infrastructure isn’t constructed for bidirectional energy flow at the customer premises, they only accept energy feeds for use from other suppliers at designated points, where the frequency, phase and voltage can be matched.
    Now, one can have circuitry that matches frequency, phase and voltage, but it is expensive and has the potential to detect its own output in favor of prime power under certain conditions, so protecting against that adds even greater expense.
    But, let’s say you pay double or more for that capability, now you’re feeding back power – straight to the pole transformer. It’ll accept energy from the other side, but at far lower efficiency and not really contribute anything into the high voltage feed, effectively only heating the transformer on the pole.

    billseymour, @ 11, did you get to motor-generators as well? AC phase correction and matching? What one can get from all of that makes a migraine feel desirable. ;)

  8. says

    @12 wzrd1 said: one would have to precisely match voltage, phase and frequency of the prime power.
    I reply: Good points. I am not familiar with how sophisticated photovoltaic panel interface electronics are. I do know that during brownouts there are times when an emergency generator that’s not isolated will feed power back into the grid. A neighbor in a rural environment who shared a ‘pole pig’ with only one other house actually made his power available to the other house (no fires or sparks ensued, don’t ask me how).
    You obviously have a very good level of knowledge with power systems. I would be interested in knowing why the pole transformer you mentioned wouldn’t work well in the opposite direction. (As a teen, I experimented with a filament transformer once generating 110v a.c. from a 6v d.c. battery by manually spinning a brush style motor as a mechanical converter to a.c. and it powered a table radio.)

  9. wzrd1 says

    Transformers usually can operate in either direction – when current isn’t running through either side first. When it is (AC current), one can run into both trying to induce a magnetic field in opposition to one another’s phase.
    But, I’ve used transformers in “reverse” many times when I needed to step up voltage, when nothing was feeding the other side. Thing to remember with transformers, step down, the voltage does down and current available increases, step up, the voltage increases and available decreases. Which makes it easy to burn out windings if one doesn’t take that into account and the rated current of the secondary that’s being used as a primary.
    One transformer type that could have issues though is a saturable reactor, which operates in magnetic saturation and basically acts like an AC regulator. Most transformers aren’t designed to operate in saturation, so when working for the first time with the reactor, get confusing results.

  10. says

    Thanks, wzrd1 for the info about voltage and current in transformers. I now realize that two out of phase AC currents applied can be a problem. Maybe some photovoltaic electronics systems can adjust the conversion from panel DC to AC to match the phase of the grid.

  11. wzrd1 says

    One loses a fair bit in transformers naturally, so by the time one’s done, it ends up like trying to siphon from one bucket to another when they’re both at the same water level and at equal height.