CERTs Blog

MN Energy Stories Blog
Bringing you news about clean energy projects and opportunities. Tell your story.

Get AnswersGet Answers
Stories to help you
get to the bottom of
your energy questions
  Local Government Energy ActionLocal Government Energy Action
Stories highlighting the
energy-saving efforts of
cities, counties & schools
  Subscribe to digest
Receive stories
in your inbox

Mayor Peter Lindstrom shows off solar panels atop Falcon Heights City Hall
Trevor Drake
03/27/2017 - 2:27pm
Community solar programs are gaining increasing interest from electric utility customers across the nation. Unlike individual solar PV systems, community shared solar systems, also known as Solar Gardens, create an opportunity for multiple individuals and organizations to receive the benefit of a larger solar installation without requiring it to be located on-site. For local government entities, these benefits include supporting clean energy and its positive local economic impacts, saving on energy bills for public facilities, and hedging against the future price volatility of electricity. A new report released by the Clean Energy Resource Teams, a partnership of organizations working with communities on clean energy projects in Minnesota, highlights the unique ability for community...
Joel Haskard
03/16/2017 - 1:49pm
There is A LOT happening in the world of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) here in Minnesota. We asked Jukka Kukkonen with PlugInConnect, LLC, to tell us a bit more. The Overview   “This is a year of great developments in Minnesota,” says Jukka. “Auto manufacturers are bringing more plug-in vehicle choices to the market and first affordable battery electric vehicles with over 200 mile range will be available here this fall. Utility companies are working to become energy experts in the transportation area to better assist their customers and auto dealers are realizing the market potential of this new segment. Still there are a lot of questions but fortunately we already have many plug-in vehicle owners who are happy to share their experiences with general public. It is great to work with all these partners and line up things in Minnesota for electrified future of...
Shown from left to right are Jan Smith, Courtney Quaife, Payton Quaife, Tim Quaife, Karl Hansen, and Tim Kennedy. Photo by Rhonda Silence, WTIP.
Keith Butcher - SMMPA
03/16/2017 - 1:30pm
No, it isn’t Christmas time again, but you might think that with all the new LED lighting that illuminates the recently remodeled Holiday Gas Station in Grand Marais! To promote energy efficiency strategies, the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission issued a rebate to Mike’s Holiday, Inc. for their extensive use of LED technology. They installed energy-saving LED lights throughout the store, around the building, and under the canopies. The rebate from the city totaled $10,912 and will eliminate the need to generate approximately 83,000 kWhs of electricity each year. “The payback was remarkable,” stated manager Courtney Quaife. “Especially with the rebate covering about 23% of the cost. This is a great service that the utility provides to help local businesses reduce costs and remain competitive.” Karl Hansen, chair of the...
Minnesota Geothermal Heat Pump Association Conference
Joel Haskard
03/16/2017 - 1:15pm
A recent Finance & Commerce article highlighted the installation of a new geothermal system at Cargill Philanthropies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The article served as a great reminder that geothermal is an excellent—and often forgotten—energy technology. Not only that, but the state’s annual geothermal conference is coming up next week! Jeff Beiriger, Executive Director with the Minnesota Geothermal Heat Pump Association (MGHPA) notes, “[Geothermal] systems stand on their own merits—they work, they save money, they don’t emit carbon, and they’re a renewable resource. The fact is, people...
University of Minnesota researcher Samantha Ehrenberg uses a plasma reactor to create silicon nanoparticles that are the key ingredient in the solar concentrators. Credit: Patrick O'Leary, University of Minnesota
Joel Haskard
03/15/2017 - 3:47pm
The CERTs statewide staff are housed at the University of Minnesota on the St. Paul campus. There is a lot of interesting research happening around here, and when we recently read that researchers were working with high-tech silicon nanoparticles to collect solar energy in windows, man, that got us pretty excited. OK, it might be a few years away, but hey, still exciting. We spoke with Dr. Uwe Kortshagen, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, to learn more.   Have you had any window manufactures express interest in this technology?   Dr. Uwe Kortshagen: We have held this technology under wraps, until the publication of our paper two weeks ago. We have since started to reach out to one local window manufacturer, but have...
CERTs Right Light Guide for LED Tube Lights
Alexis Troschinetz
03/13/2017 - 5:01pm
LED linear tube lights are an emerging energy-efficient technology. With the popularity of the CERTs Right Light Guide, we decided it was high time to offer some basic guidance on LED tubes. This is the second version of the guide with slight revisions from the original.   Why are people considering LED tubes?   Fluorescent lighting is everywhere. Fluorescent lighting is universal. Look up, and you’ll likely find these familiar tubes lining the ceilings of many buildings. Linear fluorescent tubes (LFLs) have largely reached their maximum energy-saving potential, and they also require recycling. LED lighting is a new alternative. LED lighting is rapidly evolving and providing an alternative to LFLs. Building owners and facility managers are adopting LED lighting for its long life span, energy efficiency, and controllability.  ...
Minneapolis benchmarking report now available
Dan Thiede
03/07/2017 - 3:58pm
A new analysis of energy use for 417 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that they have the combined potential to save $27 million per year on energy costs by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 15 percent. The City of Minneapolis’ Energy Benchmarking Report analyzed the 2015 energy use of 264 commercial and 153 public properties that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance (building owners had until June 2016 to submit data). The buildings in the report include 107 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 8.1 million mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is the equivalent use of about 102,000 households or roughly 60 percent of the...
Clair Nelson Finland Community Center
Marcell Mikkelson
03/07/2017 - 2:47pm
Friends of the Finland Community had one simple goal in mind: to help the Clair Nelson Finland Community Center become more energy efficient and cost effective. A Northeast CERT Seed Grant helped them get it done!   LEDs were the perfect solution   Friends of the Finland Community’s aim was to replace ten metal halide light fixtures located on the outside of the building with LED lights. The metal halides that were originally put in were chosen by the designers of the community center because LED technology was not as fully developed at the time of the buildings construction. “That was immediately problematic, with light bulbs occasionally exploding, having to be replaced often, and then the disposal issue,” said Honor Schauland,...
Pilot home for Giving Comfort At Home gets a thumbs up for air sealing
Marcell Mikkelson
03/06/2017 - 3:14pm
Ecolibrium3’s Giving Comfort at Home project provides energy efficiency upgrades for Duluth homeowners that may be unable to do so on their own, and the program recently got a boost from a Northeast CERT Seed Grant.   Understanding the problem   “Duluth housing stock is old, and many of our most vulnerable citizens experience energy poverty, particularly during the winter months.” said Jodi Slick from Ecolibrium3. Old homes combined with extremely cold winters were part of the reason that Giving Comfort at Home was created, but the primary reason was as a response to the recovering housing market, which has led to a shortage in contractors that are willing or able to do smaller energy efficiency projects.   How Giving Comfort at Home works   Giving Comfort...
J. Drake Hamilton
Lissa Pawlisch
03/01/2017 - 6:00am
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month. As part of the series we interviewed J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   J. Drake Hamilton: As Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy, my work focuses on achieving big carbon reductions in electricity. I develop science-based climate policies, and work daily with colleagues and...


Subscribe to MN Energy Stories Blog from CERTs

Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission