Working with the People of Rural Minnesota to Build a Clean Energy Economy

Over the past 25 years Clean Up The River Environment (CURE) has extended its reach beyond water quality advocacy to become the state’s rural voice on many community and environmental issues impacting our region.  We are a rural membership-based grassroots organization. Our mission states: CURE aims to protect and restore resilient rural landscapes by harnessing the power of citizens who care about them. We do this because we believe that robust human communities can only be sustained by healthy ecosystems, and robust natural environments can only be regained through vigorous stewardship. Our work takes many forms, but always involves three core practices:

  • Awakening people’s bonds with the natural world around them.
  • Inclusively and strategically exploring issues and actions.
  • Systematically building communities of change at critical intersections of ecological and social wellbeing.

For a dozen years CURE has worked to address climate change and advance clean energy policy. In collaboration with partners in Minnesota and across the Midwest our goal has been to advance the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions to slow the advance of human induced global warming. Collectively, we have made progress regionally and Minnesota has led the nation in modeling wise policy here in our state.  At CURE our top line objective is to build a carbon free economy by 2050.  It’s an audacious goal to be sure, but a necessary and correct aspiration.

With current support from the Carolyn Foundation, CURE has prioritized a targeted greater Minnesota project: To design and test a Minnesota model of rural electric cooperative (REC) transformation.  Our objective is to transform the dominant rural electric cooperative business model from pro fossil fuel to prioritize clean energy adoption. To make this shift REC leadership must acknowledge and prioritize member-owner long-term interests.

Rural electric co-ops are the 900 rural electric utilities that’s serve 75% of the land area of the United States. In Minnesota REC’s are mostly local utilities, largely unregulated by the state. They are member-owned and member-controlled institutions, but the true picture of how REC’s operate is more complicated. REC leadership generally opposes clean energy policy advancement and is at odds with the goals of Minnesota’s clean energy advocates – including growing numbers of their own REC member-owners.  Our work is to promote change within the REC business model itself through the influence of REC member-owners.  To learn more, visit our public facing project website and our project Facebook page.

To learn more about CURE visit