City of Morris signs climate partnership agreement with Saerbeck, Germany

Monday, November 30, 2015
Morris Sun Tribune
UMM News Service

MORRIS — Morris will be partnering with a sister city in Germany to learn more about community-level renewable energy projects.

On Tuesday, the Morris City Council approved a Climate Protection Partnership Agreement with Saerbeck, Germany, a city of about 7,200 people in North Rhine-Westphalia. 

The agreement was officially signed by Mayor Sheldon Giese in a ceremony on Friday, Oct. 16 in Minneapolis and is part of a larger program connecting Germany and the state of Minnesota on issues of renewable energy and climate protection.

Under the partnership agreement, Morris and Saerbeck will exchange knowledge and experience over the next three years about climate projection and adapting to climate change.

"They're really leading the way, and we get a chance to look into the future a little bit as far as what they're doing and what we may need to do or could be doing," said City Manager Blaine Hill. "It's really exciting to get to be part of all that."

"It's an exciting thing for us too, to see what you are dealing here in Morris with concerning renewable energies, beginning from say, 'point zero,' or 'point one,'" said Saerbeck Technical Advisor Guido Wallraven. "We are very excited to hear from you how these things may work. We will give you everything of our experience with it."

Saerbeck is a recognized world leader in renewable energy thanks to their work on the Saerbeck Bioenergy Park.

In 2009, the city set to work building a renewable energy park on the grounds of a former German army ammunition storage facility. The facility now combines wind, solar and biomass energy production and can produce 250 percent of the energy needed to power the city of Saerbeck.

Many homeowners have implemented their own personal solar energy projects, further increasing the city's output.

Wallraven and Mayor Wilfried Roos visited Morris in October 2014 to begin sharing some of their experience working on community-level renewable energy.

In a meeting with community members on Tuesday, Wallraven said the Saerbeck Bioenergy Park moved forward in small steps. Community members got on board as projects were completed, and organizers held regular assemblies to keep community members informed.

"We're beginning to show that these things are working, that renewable energies can make an energy price which is below the official price of energy in Germany — this is a big message we can get out," said Wallraven.