TWEC to Host Indoor Food Production Container – July 2019 CEO Message

We recently received the exciting news that Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative was selected to be the host of an indoor food production container in our service territory. Our cooperative was selected from among several Great River Energy (GRE) member-owner cooperatives interested in partnering with GRE on the two-year demonstration.

The project will help gather data useful for the future expansion of Minnesota’s indoor agriculture industry. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting the project to research indoor food production technology where an entire hydroponic system is built entirely inside a shipping container. The shipping container will include all of the components needed for commercial food production.

We are extremely pleased with the support this project has already received from the community. Todd-Wadena will partner with the Ag and Energy Center at Central Lakes College (CLC) to give students an opportunity to work in the food container. Students from CLC’s Horticulture and Agriculture degree programs will have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about sustainable agriculture practices.

Lakewood Health System is also a member of our project team and will be receiving the produce that is grown to use in their “Food Farmacy” program. This program works to address hunger-health disparities throughout their federally designated “food desert” region.

The indoor food production container will also provide valuable data for utilities. In looking at the electric load the container requires to operate in our region, we can use this data for electricity load planning and evaluating beneficial rate designs.

Daniel Carlisle

Looking to the future, indoor agriculture will allow food to be produced more efficiently and water to be used more efficiently as well. It is exciting to play a part in learning more about this emerging market and studying the most effective ways to grow fresh produce in Minnesota year-round.

Make sure to check out the infographic below to learn more about the indoor food production container demonstration project that will be coming to our service area soon!