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Touring the biomass-heated poultry barn at Viking Company
Fritz Ebinger
05/22/2017 - 11:56am
On May 19, 2017, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and AURI (Agricultural Utilization Research Institute) hosted a group of 30 at Hillcrest Restaurant in Albany, MN to hear presentations on commercial biomass heating and then headed out to the nearby Viking Company farm for a demonstration tour of their biomass-heated poultry barn. Continue reading for overviews of each presentation, links to slides and program resources, and photos from the event.   Biomass for Poultry: A Minnesota Case Study at Viking Company   First-up, Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Program Manager at CERTs, shared the results of a wood heating system on Viking Company’s broiler chicken growing operation. This technology offers commercial poultry growers the opportunity to beat their peers on input costs with a cost-effective, local, and renewable fuel...
Touring the solar array that powers the Hutchinson wastewater treatment plant
Kristi Fernholz
05/19/2017 - 4:19pm
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, over 20 people gathered at City Hall in Hutchinson, Minnesota, to take a driving and walking tour of the many clean energy and sustainability projects that the city has engaged in over the years. They were greeted by Mayor Gary Forcier, City Administrator Matt Jaunich, Facilities Manager Jeremiah “JJ” Verhey and GreenStep Cities Coordinator and Project, Environmental, and Regulatory Manager John Paulson. The three spoke about some of the energy efficiency upgrades (LED lighting, lighting times/motion sensors, variable frequency drive motors) that have reduced energy costs across the city’s buildings. “We’re doing it for multiple reasons—economic and environmental—and then we are benchmarking so we can show people where we are saving money,” noted Mayor Forcier. The city even created its own composting program to process and sell the compost it collects...
MidWestOne Bank in Chisago City
Gordon Moore
05/04/2017 - 3:41pm
Walking into MidWestOne Bank’s cheery, modern lobby in Chisago City, you likely wouldn’t notice that the building was originally constructed in the mid-1970s. You’d also be hard-pressed, though, to notice that all the lights brightening the building—from the teller’s counter to warm tones highlighting the cozy fireplace—are LEDs, but that’s just the way Jason Gamble, MidWestOne’s Branch President, likes it. His bank recently wrapped up a complete replacement of its lighting, swapping old fluorescent bulbs for efficient LEDs, and the results of this transition speak for themselves. “It’s safe to say that to the general public, they really didn’t know what hit them, before and after. They didn’t notice the difference, and that was the hoped for outcome. We didn’t do it because we wanted people to say, ‘Oh, look at...
Solar installation at Bridgeview Farms
Fritz Ebinger
05/01/2017 - 11:36am
The cattle pasture on the southern side of Bridgeview Farms is now home to 32 solar PV panels providing 88% of the average annual electricity needed by Tim and Marie Mack’s farm and home. A family owned and operated farm, Bridgeview in Zumbrota, MN offers traditionally-raised beef sides and quarters, as well as corn, soybeans, hay, straw, and pumpkins. By covering the majority of the farm’s energy use, the solar installation will help keep electricity costs predictable and save the farm money as energy costs rise over the coming years. The farm’s new solar array consists of 32 Heliene modules that are made here in Minnesota and a 10 kW Fronius inverter. The 9.92 kW system is estimated to produce 12,500 kWh every year. The farm worked with Fritz Ebinger at the Clean Energy Resource Teams to...
Solar installation at Ronningen Dairy Farm
Fritz Ebinger
05/01/2017 - 11:16am
A 39 kW solar PV array is the newest piece of equipment on Ronningen Dairy Farm in West Concord, MN in rural Goodhue County, and it’s pumping enough energy into the grid to cover about 50% of the dairy’s electricity needs. With over 100 head of Brown Swiss and Holstein dairy cows, Kurtis and Kelly at Ronningen Dairy Farm are keeping plenty busy, and always looking for ways to help their family business to be more economically sustainable. The decision to install 39 kW of solar will save the dairy a considerable amount of money on their energy bills by avoiding the rising costs of electricity. The farm worked with Fritz Ebinger at the Clean Energy Resource Teams to get project planning support through the Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota program. They came to Fritz from Curt Shellum at Solar Connection, a Rochester-based solar...
Ron and Kathy Gray, front right, along with (left to right) their daughter Miranda, son-in-law Scott, and grandchildren Murdock and Gwendolyn, pose with their rooftop solar energy system. Llamas from their family business join in the fun.
MN Dept. of Commerce
04/27/2017 - 12:11pm
Solar is a win-win-win for incentive recipients, economy and environment   Ron and Kathy Gray of Kellogg, Minn., applied for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program in 2015 and were selected to receive the incentive. They had a 9.9 kW rooftop solar system installed on their house, just off Highway 61 in southeastern Minnesota. The system was installed in September 2015 for $40,000. They have been pleased with the performance of their new clean energy system, which provides about 85% of the electricity needed annually to power their home. They will receive an incentive payment of about $2,250 each year in June for 10 years, based on the electric generation of their system in the previous calendar year. With a 30% federal tax credit and the incentive payments, they can see the financial and environmental benefits. “The panels are guaranteed for 25 years, so we will be...
Youth Be the Spark participants
Marcell Mikkelson
04/25/2017 - 2:25pm
Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL) is an organization that works with faith communities across Minnesota to address the problem of climate change through education and opportunities to become a part of the climate justice movement. With help from a Northeast CERT seed grant, they were able to extend these opportunities to youth in the Duluth and Arrowhead region through their Youth Be the Spark program. About the program “Youth Be the Spark brought together youth from different congregations in outdoor experiences followed by reflection time and action planning for making a difference,” said Beth Tamminen, who is the outreach coordinator for the MNIPL Arrowhead Regional Network. The project switched its target audience from high school students to middle schoolers and were able...
City of Trimont water tower
Sophie Lutz
04/25/2017 - 12:49pm
The City of Trimont in South Central Minnesota is leading the way for small cities looking to revamp their street lighting and improve their buildings. The city recently transitioned to LED street lights and updated the heating and cooling systems in their Community Building. It all started when Jim Haler at South Central Electric Association brought the Southwest CERT Seed Grant opportunity to the city’s attention. We interviewed Mike Paulson, Public Works Supervisor with the City of Trimont, to learn more about the project and how it went. Can you tell us what this project is all about?   Mike Paulson: The City of Trimont’s energy efficiency project had two parts: updates to the Community Building and new street lights. Community Building: The Trimont Community Building was finished in 1994, and the heating and cooling systems were original to the building....
Fully loaded power strip | Photo by Richard Drew, AP
Dan Thiede
04/25/2017 - 12:39pm
Recently, Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio published a story all about the rising energy use of our personal workstations—that mess of cords at your desk powering all of your stuff. Read on for an interesting analysis and useful tips for reducing your load! “Dual monitors, cellphone chargers, coffee makers, space heaters. If you have one or more of them plugged in at your workspace, you’re part of a growing problem in building efficiency. LED lighting and changes to heating and cooling systems have cut down on energy use in commercial buildings since 2003. But now, plugload — the energy it takes to power all those things plugged into your desktop power strip — is rising. It’s largely a function of modernity. The tools we use to do our jobs today require a lot...
Diana McKeown chats with local business owner
Diana McKeown
04/22/2017 - 2:25pm
Over the past year, Metro CERT has supported the energy conservation and development aspect of the Chisago Lakes Area’s community revitalization plan for their entry into the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition they have been participating in for nearly two years. The Chisago Lakes Area includes the communities of Chisago, Lindstrom, Center City, Shafer, and Taylors Falls. In the end, they were one of eight communities (out of 350 originally) with a chance to receive one, two, or three million dollars. On April 19th the winners were announced and sadly, Chisago Lakes didn’t win. Though they are still winners in our eyes!   Metro CERT support   Metro CERT supported the energy conservation and development plan in a number of different ways. In December...

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