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Made-In-Minnesota Solar Rebate Program
MN Dept. of Commerce
01/28/2015 - 1:18pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on January 21, 2015 that two new companies have met the qualifications to have their photovoltaic (PV) modules certified as Made in Minnesota. Heliene and itek Energy join tenKsolar and Silicon Energy as solar manufacturers in Minnesota who make solar modules that qualify for the Made in Minnesota PV Production-Based Incentive Program. As a result, incentive amounts have been set by Commerce for both itek Energy and Heliene PV modules produced in Minnesota. Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program   Incentives for solar PV are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Owners of an approved and installed PV system...
Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric Sunna Project
Frank Jossi
01/27/2015 - 1:57pm
This story is reposted from the original at Midwest Energy News. A rural Minnesota co-op is offering customers who participate in a demand-response program a hard-to-beat deal on community solar. Customers of Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric (SWCE) who want to own a photovoltaic panel in a community solar garden and add a new electric water heater to their homes can have both for just $170. The Owatonna-based cooperative has plans to build this spring a $250,000, 103 kilowatt (kW) community solar garden and wants to jumpstart interest in it, according to Syd Briggs, general manager. The utility has 250 tenKsolar 410 watt panels for sale, with individual panels priced at $1,225 after the initial $170 offer. The $170 offer is good until...
John and Rachel Egan - community solar subscribers to the Connexus Energy SolarWise program
Dan Thiede
01/23/2015 - 3:24pm
Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers, and they’re taking root in Minnesota. Here at CERTs we wanted to learn more about the experiences of subscribers in Minnesota and share them with others who are curious about community solar. Meet Rachel & John Egan: Rachel Egan of Blaine, MN is a hand therapist with NovaCare, and her husband John is a primary care physician in an internal medicine private practice on the Abbott Northwestern campus. When their new neighborhood association forbade solar installations on homeowners’ roofs, they turned to community solar as an alternative. CERTs: Why did you decide to subscribe to the Connexus Energy SolarWise community solar garden? Rachel & John...
Eric Schilling and family - community solar subscribers to the Connexus Energy SolarWise program
Dan Thiede
01/23/2015 - 3:15pm
Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers, and they’re taking root in Minnesota. Here at CERTs we wanted to learn more about the experiences of subscribers in Minnesota and share them with others who are curious about community solar. Meet Eric: Eric Schilling of Ham Lake works on designs for next generation pacemakers and defibrillators as a biomedical engineer at Medtronic. He and his family are also proudly powering half of their home energy use with community solar. CERTs: Why did you decide to subscribe to the Connexus Energy SolarWise community solar garden? Eric Schilling: I’ve always been interested in minimizing my environmental impact. I had been hoping to install a solar array on the...
Attendees at the workshop learn about community solar gardens
Patrick Mathwig
01/16/2015 - 4:03pm
Community solar has been THE hot energy issue in Minnesota so far this year. In 2013 the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation that required Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s largest investor owned utility, to administer a community solar gardens (CSG) program, and enabled other utilities to administer them as well. Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers. Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program officially opened on December 12th, 2014. Minnesota currently has 14 megawatts of solar, but with the mandate of 1.5% solar, Minnesota’s solar capacity will increase greatly: by 2020, Minnesota is expected to have 400 megawatts of solar capacity. On December 17, 2014 the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program hosted a workshop for...
Guaranteed Energy Savings Program
Frank Jossi
01/12/2015 - 4:03pm
This interview was originally posted on Midwest Energy News. For two years, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has been showcasing a new approach to financing state and municipal sustainability projects around the state. Called the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), the concept offers organizations a way to reduce energy costs and use the savings to help pay for projects. The state created documents to help agencies and municipalities manage the program, which involves an “Energy Services Company” that develops, installs, and provides financial assistance for the projects. It’s not an easy concept to explain even to large agencies,...
David stands in front of the WHE community solar project with his yard sign
Dan Thiede
01/12/2015 - 10:46am
Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers, and they’re taking root in Minnesota. Here at CERTs we wanted to learn more about the experiences of subscribers in Minnesota and share them with others who are curious about community solar. Meet David: David Schmidt is a research engineer at the University of Minnesota and teaches a course on renewable energy. He had already cut back on his energy use at his home in Corcoran, MN and converted to LED lights. For a long time he was intrigued by the idea of generating power from the sun, but had never taken the next step—until community solar came along. CERTs: Why did you decide to subscribe to the community solar project at Wright-Hennepin Cooperative...
The Popp Farm in Royalton, MN
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 5:02pm
In an age of disappearing small and medium size farms, Doug and Jane Popp are making their medium-sized dairy and crop operation near Royalton, MN work. After talking with them for a while, it becomes clear how. They have a passion for farming and the way of life it offers, and a keen eye for the bottom line—which includes a farmer’s frugality, as well as a creativity and willingness to seize good opportunities. Top on the list of these seized opportunities? The Popps put the wind, the sun, and energy efficient technologies to work for them!   Solar on Popp Farm   It all started in 2010, when a family member who was taking a course in renewable energy systems asked if he could use their farm to complete a solar assessment for a school assignment. Once they started looking, they realized they had a perfect spot up on the hill, just south of the wind turbine;...
Snow sits on traffic lights in the winter
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 10:34am
I heard a question recently about LED traffic signals and wanted to craft a response. Check out the question and answer below, then learn more about a Minnesota community’s experience. Question: I’ve heard LED traffic signal lights can present a problem in the northern climates. The concern is that the efficient LEDs, which put off very little heat, will need to have snow and ice removal maintenance, because the waste heat that previously melted the snow/ice is no longer there. Is this true? Answer: To find an answer to this question, I started by asking Andrea Lauer, mayor of Royalton, MN about her experience. Sarah: Your LED signals have been up for a few years now, has your city experienced any problems with this? If so, how do you address it? Andrea: We discussed the issue of possible snow/ice build up on LED lights before making the switch. We felt that if we had a...
Mayor Peter Lindstrom speaks about Falcon Heights
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 8:03am
Nearly two dozen city officials and engaged community members gathered in Little Falls on December 11, 2014 to receive hands-on training on how to drive sustainability in their area through the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 28 best practices. Each best practice is comprised of actions. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation. The program has expanded rapidly since its inception in 2010 with 75 cities currently engaged. Speakers at the event hailed from three Minnesota cities. Royalton: Participants heard from Andrea Lauer, mayor of...

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