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Published on March 28, 2024
Saint Paul's The Heights to Undergo Sustainability Boost with $4.7M Geothermal System LoanSource: Google Street View

Big bucks are pouring into Saint Paul as The Heights community gears up for a major sustainability upgrade, thanks to a hearty $4.7 million loan from the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority (MnCIFA), geared at implementing a district geothermal energy system.

Mayor Melvin Carter spoke highly of the project's potential, stating "Using the Earth’s natural energy to heat and cool a whole community is a big step toward achieving our local climate goals," emphasizing a future where sustainable solutions take the lead, according to a statement released by the City of Saint Paul. Ward 6 Councilmember Nelsie Yang endorsed the project, declaring that this initiative, which hopes to lower residents' carbon footprints and reduce the sting of high utility costs, is setting a new standard for cleaner living environments.

MnCIFA, carved into existence by the recent legislative session, steps in as a financing authority to bolster eco-friendly projects where traditional money lenders might shy away. Peter Klein, MnCIFA's Executive Director, explained that once The Heights' construction phase concludes with multi-family housing and light-industrial buildings standing tall, the economic scene would be ripe for private sector investment.

Set to oversee the geothermal system are District Energy St. Paul and the Saint Paul Port Authority, the latter being instrumental as the owner and master developer of The Heights, Michael Auger and Todd Hurley, high-ranking officials with each respective organization, underscoring the vital nature of such funding in current development phases when other financial paths are less viable, this new energy system reflects the vision of creating a carbon-neutral community, The Heights is also jumpstarting a cascade of sustainable energy choices across the East Side.

The Heights isn't just about green energy; it's a grand investment on the city's East Side, ready to deliver 1,000 new homes and as many living-wage jobs, in collaboration with Sherman Associates, JO Companies, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

MnCIFA is no standalone entity—it's nestled within the Department of Commerce’s Energy Resources Division yet maintains its autonomy with a dedicated board. Its efforts resonate deeply with underserved communities, mandating that at least 40 percent of the benefits it generates uplift areas marked by environmental justice challenges.

For four decades, District Energy St. Paul has championed community energy, marrying reliability, affordability, and environmental consciousness, staking its future on innovative and sustainable service delivery.