Koda Energy: The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr Malting
formed the Koda Energy joint partnership to build and operate an innovative
combined heat and power plant. The facility generates electricity and heat
by burning agricultural byproducts and grown energy crops. The project gets
its name from the word “Koda” which means "friend" in the Dakota Language.
Like many governments across the country, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and its members are faced with growing energy demand, dependence on outside sources for that energy, and known environmental impacts associated with conventional energy sources. In response, the Community has been active in exploring local options to supply its energy needs. This focus on local options may reduce some of the environmental impacts associated with conventional energy sources. The SMSC has embarked on a plan to increase its energy independence through the development of alternative forms of energy. Most of the solutions for the Community do not require extensive infrastructure, and initial investment costs are recouped over the life of the project, especially with rising conventional energy costs. Each of these projects has already been realized and is busy generating energy for the Community.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Fire Station addition completed in 2008 incorporates features that take advantage of the energy provided by the sun. Four skylights with daylight harvesting sensors light a training room and equipment bay, reducing daytime energy usage. Six solar cells on the roof capture energy to heat water for showers and vehicle washing equipment, reducing the use of natural gas.
The Dakotah! Ice Center which opened in late 2008 has 16 solar panels used to heat water used in ice resurfacing equipment and eight skylights with daylight harvesting sensors. Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. weekdays, the arena typically does not have a lot of use. By using skylights and daylight harvesting during these non-peak hours, energy consumption for lighting has been reduced by about 50%.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is now recycling waste oil on site. The Community’s restaurants generate 19,900 gallons of waste vegetable oil each year from their deep fat fryers. By recycling and reusing this waste oil, what was once considered waste is now an energy resource. Biodiesel produces cleaner emissions than petroleum-based diesel fuel and reduces the need for regular diesel fuel.
Waste vegetable oil is used to produce biodiesel for use in 26 Community owned vehicles as well as to operate other equipment. During the summer months, all of the waste vegetable oil is processed into biodiesel for use in vehicles. During the winter months, the biodiesel is blended with regular diesel fuel to keep it from freezing in the sub-zero temperatures common to a Minnesota winter. This resulting fuel is used in vehicles. Any excess vegetable oil not needed for biodiesel is burned to heat the SMSC-owned Public Works Building.
Waste motor oil is being used for heat as well. Previously, this waste oil was hauled away; but one of the Public Works garages is now partially heated by burning waste oil. Using waste oil for heat reduces the use of natural gas.
A 1.5 megawatt wind turbine became operational in the fall of 2009 at the SMSC Pow Wow Grounds. This single turbine supplies enough energy for nearly all of the Community residential energy demand. It has almost no environmental impact, as it is not located near a major bird or bat migratory flyway, and it is very quiet. The center hub stands 262.4 feet tall and is visible for miles around. The three blades are 123 feet in length. Energy created by the turbine is metered as it enters a nearby Minnesota Valley Electrical Cooperative substation that provides electricity to the SMSC and the surrounding area. The generated energy is sold and the profits offset against Community energy costs. More about the Wind Turbine
Most heat produced by equipment is considered a large source of waste energy and is not utilized. The Community’s Dakotah! Ice Center which opened in late 2008 captures waste heat from the refrigeration compressors used to cool the rink floor and uses it to heat the floor beneath the arena seats. By only heating the spaces where people are, there is no need to heat the entire arena, thus reducing energy consumption significantly. The two Dakotah! Sport and Fitness Ice Arenas serve as the home ice for the Prior Lake High School boys’ and girls’ hockey teams as well as for the Prior Lake Savage Hockey Association.
Two new energy-efficient and water-efficient buildings completed in 2009 on the reservation have a geothermal heating system for temperature control to capture heat and cooling from the ground. Geothermal wells drilled down 180 feet utilize the temperature of the earth, which maintains a constant 52 degrees, to help heat and cool the buildings. One of the two buildings houses the South Metro Federal Credit Union. The other houses Mazopiya, a Natural Food Market which opened in late 2010.
Koda Energy, a joint partnership of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr Malting, became fully operational in May 2009 as a combined heat and power plant which burns earth friendly biomass. It is the first biomass facility in the country that burns only natural, non-manmade materials. (Others burn manmade materials along with biomass.) All natural products like oat hulls, barley malt dust, wood chips, and dry grasses are burned and that heat is turned into steam. The steam pushes a turbine to make electricity which is first used to power Koda Energy, and then sold. This renewable energy facility uses materials from within 60 miles of the plant, and it doesn’t compete with food or row crops. Koda Energy is highly efficient in terms of heat conversion compared to other types of energy, largely due to its suspension boiler. Excess heat is captured and used by Rahr Malting in their process to create malt. More about Koda Energy