Several Minnesota state parks are replacing old gas guzzlers with electric cars, installing solar panels that help generate electricity for many of its park buildings and visitor centers and rehabbing those buildings to use less energy.

As reported by the Alexandria Echo Press, the efforts are helping the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cut its overall energy use and reduce its carbon footprint.

“We’re really trying to take a comprehensive approach to energy reduction overall,” said Peter Hark, operations director for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.

In 2012 — through parks projects and new energy saving practices throughout the agency — the DNR will have cut its energy use by 6% in two years for a savings of $800,000. That puts the agency on track to meet a target Gov. Mark Dayton set for state government to reduce its energy use 20% by the end of 2015.

Last year six solar systems were installed. This year, at least seven more installations are planned. In the last several years the DNR has doubled its renewable energy-generating capacity and ended 2012 with 22 photovoltaic (solar) and wind installations throughout the state, mainly at its parks buildings.

“DNR state parks are a major producer of renewable energy in the state,” Hark said.

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