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Hartley Nature Center in Duluth renovated its solar energy system and added battery backup
Joel Haskard
09/22/2016 - 4:04pm
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson proclaimed August 26th to be “Solar Storage Awareness Day” in Duluth during the commissioning ceremony of a new solar PV and battery storage system at the Hartley Nature Center. We spoke with Bret Pence, project specialist with Ecolibrium3 and co-leader on the Hartley Nature Center Solar Plus Storage Upgrade project, which can now store 14.2 kWh of energy. What was your role in this project?   Bret Pence: I was a member of the project coordination team, along with many others, including Alison Hoxie (UMD). Ecolibrium3 was perhaps the initial instigator, as we see energy storage as a big potential driver of solar installations on Duluth. In your opinion, what makes this project unique/ interesting?   Bret Pence: The partners involved, the speed in which we were able to get it on the ground, and...
Trevor Drake, Metro CERT Co-Director, speaks with event attendees
Trevor Drake
09/22/2016 - 11:46am
On September 20th, 2016 nearly 40 people gathered at the Shoreview Community Center to learn about community solar gardens and network with experts and developers. Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. They’re great for people that want to go solar but are unable to do so on their own. Attendees lived in an apartments, had shaded roofs at home, or didn’t have space at their organizations for solar.   Workshop Agenda: Mike Rehm from the Neighborhood Energy Connection kicked off the meeting talking to attendees about energy efficiency opportunities and programs that people should consider when going solar. Learn more about programs. Next we heard from Trevor Drake, Co-Director of Metro CERT, about the basics about community solar,...
Kicking the tires on electric vehicle charging stations in Bemidji, MN
Anna Carlson
09/21/2016 - 3:28pm
Bemidji State University was a hotbed of clean energy activity on August 31st as folks gathered for two consecutive events. First up was the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) meeting, where over 40 attendees gathered to learn about clean energy projects in Bemidji. First they heard about the City of Bemidji’s $2.4 million Guaranteed Energy Savings Program project, with Jesse Robertson and Nate Mathews from the city giving an overview of the project as it has unfolded. Regarding the new LED street lighting, City Manager Mathews noted, “Downtown businesses love it because it is way better lit.” Robertson added, “For any city, I would recommend something like GESP.” Next came Sam Mason, Manager of Energy Services and Facilities at...
If your furnace looks like this it may be time for an upgrade
MN Dept. of Commerce
09/21/2016 - 8:24am
As another Minnesota winter approaches, homeowners may be looking to replace an old, worn-out or inefficient heating system with a new high-efficiency model. Most furnaces have a useful life of 15-20 years, while most boilers will last 20-30 years. If your furnace or boiler is nearing the end of its expected life, you should start planning your replacement strategy, including what to buy and how to pay for it. If you have made the decision to buy a new heating system, the Minnesota Commerce Department wants you to be aware of some options to help pay for it: Loans: The Lending Center at the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) offers the Home Energy Loan Program for Minnesota homeowners to make energy improvements. It offers secured loans of up to $20,000 (4.99% fixed rate, terms up to 10...
Community solar garden resources
Sarah Hayden Shaw
09/20/2016 - 3:36pm
This past spring, thanks to support from the University of Minnesota’s Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership, Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden Shaw had the opportunity to work with Connor Schaefer, a Masters student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Connor did all sorts of research for CERTs on community solar gardens, and we wanted to take an opportunity to share a compendium of resources that Connor compiled. Enjoy!   Community Solar Garden Resource Guide   There is a wealth of information regarding community solar gardens available from various sources, including many that we at CERTs have helped to create. Thanks to Connor Schaefer’s work, we now have a categorized compilation of resources in Guides & Reports, ...
Xcel Energy Partners in Energy Program
Peter Lindstrom
09/20/2016 - 11:00am
What do people living and working in your community want in energy efficiency and sustainability? Communities can partner with Xcel Energy to identify and prioritize their energy needs. The utility provides tools and resources to develop a plan and then supports putting it into action. It’s called Partners in Energy. Residents, local businesses, city operations, and municipal leaders work together to create energy plans. It’s a coordinated effort that’s truly rooted in the local community. Watch a short video here or check out a great infographic about the program. “We‘re excited to see communities...
Sustainable Home Tour
Chris Meyer
09/19/2016 - 1:01pm
The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s Sustainable Home Tour (formerly known as the Solar Tour) has annually featured energy efficient, renewably powered, and all around sustainable homes around Minnesota for 25+ years. This year the Sustainable Home Tour will be on Saturday October 1, 2016 with hours from 10am to 3pm. We chatted with Chris Meyer, SE CERT Coordinator and organizer of the Greater Minnesota portion of the Sustainable Home Tour. How can learn more about the various sites?   Chris Meyer: People can explore the site features and locations of our 30+ statewide sites in advance via our google map, which is linked to detailed information and photos of each home/site. Visitors can expect that someone will be available at each...
Joe Schertz of The School of Music and Mayhem plugs in to solar energy
Dan Thiede
09/09/2016 - 11:29am
The School of Music & Mayhem in West Lakeland, MN recently flipped the switch on a new solar PV system that covers 100% of their needs, becoming the first music school in the Midwest to be powered entirely by the sun! Rock on! To commemorate the event, owner Joe Schertz and eight of his students wrote and recorded a Solar Suite song that is long— 8 minutes and 20 seconds long to be exact. Why 8 minutes and 20 seconds? That’s the time it takes a photon to burst off the surface of the sun, travel through space, then land on the school’s solar panels. Listen to the original song in the music video below, or click here to download the song. When the song fades and you feel the warmth of the sun on your face, those are the...
EnergyChange helps nonprofits in Minnesota save energy
Joel Haskard
09/09/2016 - 11:13am
If you are a nonprofit hoping to save money on your energy bills, and you are located in Xcel Energy and/or CenterPoint Energy service territory, you might want to schedule a visit with EnerChange. We spoke with Michael T’Kach, Energy Manager with EnerChange, to learn more about how they are helping nonprofits save energy and money to better serve their missions. Tell us a little bit about EnerChange.   Michael T’Kach: EnerChange is a Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) program, authorized by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to help nonprofit organizations who do not traditionally have an on-staff energy engineer. EnerChange provides one and collects data over a detailed 2-3 hour walk through of their building(s). Energy efficiency is all we do, and we do it at no cost. We sell no products and endorse no...
First National Bank getting energy performance overhaul financed with PACE
Joel Haskard
09/08/2016 - 2:00pm
The 417-foot, 32-story First National Bank Building in downtown Saint Paul was constructed in 1931 and competed with New York City’s Empire State Building for construction materials. Madison Equities, the new owner of the building as of winter 2015, worked with Petros PACE Finance and the Saint Paul Port Authority to make $6.8 million in energy efficiency upgrades ($5M from Petros and $1.8M from SPPA), including energy management, HVAC, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors. These improvements are expected to reduce energy consumption and related costs by 35-40%. Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE...

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