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Large Business of the Year: LSP-Cottage Grove helps in big way

Kent Ripplinger, who oversees the daily activities at LSP-Cottage Grove, said volunteerism is part of his employees’ job description. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Being a good neighbor and community partner is almost as imperative as on-site safety at the LSP-Cottage Grove Cogeneration Facility.

Kent Ripplinger, who oversees the 14-acre power plant adjacent to the much larger 3M-Cottage Grove site, said since the company’s relocation to Cottage Grove in 1996, there has alway been a focus on giving back to the community.

Because of the plant’s involvement with myriad charities in south Washington County throughout the years, the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce named it 2013’s Large Business of the Year.

“We’ve always been a strong supporter of this city, since day one,” Ripplinger said. “There are many different ways we get our employees involved in volunteering and it’s a requirement for them.”

Nineteen employees from around the area staff the 245-megawatt, natural gas-fueled plant, Ripplinger said. Control room operators, materials specialists, an environmental health specialist and administration keep the daily activities humming along.

Built into employees’ schedules is time away from the office volunteering in the community, Ripplinger said. LSP-Cottage Grove has strong ties to Stone Soup Thrift Shop, Friends In Need Food Shelf, the Youth Service Bureau and the Carpenter Nature Center. The plant also donates funds annually to the Holiday Train and the Cottage Grove Safety Camp, and it is an annual sponsor of the Stone Soup Soup-er Bowl.

“LSP-Cottage Grove quietly sits back and supports the Chamber and nonprofits in our community,” the nomination letter said. “The Chamber office and other nonprofits know they have (a) willing and helpful crew at LSP if manpower is needed, they will answer the call.”

Ripplinger said while he is grateful for the recognition, it is simply the company’s duty to be involved in the community.

“It’s always been a goal of ours to be a good neighbor,” Ripplinger said. “We understand that some people, when they hear the words power plant, they don’t think they are good words.

“We try hard to bring out that positive image to the community and get involved in any positive way we can.”