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Screenshot from LPTV news segment on Leech Lake community solar gardens
Anna Carlson
08/16/2017 - 12:01pm
“This is the first 100% low-income shared solar array in the state of Minnesota, and the first low-income community solar array integrated into energy assistance (LIHEAP) in the nation!” notes Jason Edens with Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, the solar developer for the five Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe solar installations. “With 42% of the Leech Lake Nation living below the poverty level, this solar facility will help ensure low-income families have the resources to reduce their energy costs. It is the first community solar array in Indian Country in the nation.” Below are excerpts from a Bemidji Pioneer article and...
Treasure Island Center
Peter Lindstrom
08/16/2017 - 10:48am
Go Wild, LLC secured $6.74 million in PACE financing as part of its capital stack for the Treasure Island Center redevelopment project in Saint Paul, Minnesota. PACE funds will be used for energy efficiency upgrades that are projected to cut utility costs by 40 to 60 percent, decreasing from $1.2 million per year to between $480,000 and $720,000. Treasure Island Center is a major, mixed-use redevelopment project scheduled for completion this fall. The former Macy’s department store in downtown Saint Paul will now be home to TRIA Rink, a fully enclosed rooftop ice arena that will be used by the Minnesota Wild as a practice facility. Other uses include a two-story Walgreens, Stacked Deck Brewing, a TRIA Orthopaedic medical clinic, offices for the St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, a fitness center, a restaurant, and an event center. The former...
SolSmart
Trevor Drake
08/15/2017 - 2:22pm
Almost every time we give a community presentation on solar, somebody asks about how the costs of the technology are changing and whether it’s best to wait to “go solar.” It’s a smart question, and indeed the costs of the physical components of solar projects are being driven down by market forces (though arguably not quick enough to warrant waiting). The trouble with this question is that it misses the target in seeing what’s most important, which is not just the cost of hardware but the final cost of an installed system. The non-hardware “soft costs” of solar, which include the costs incurred to solar developers (and passed onto system owners or subscribers) for navigating local zoning regulations, pulling permits, and providing financing options to customers, can total as much as 64% of the cost of a residential solar installation, according to the...
The process developed by Ruan and Anderson converts scum to biodiesel that can be directly used in utility vehicles on-site, leading to substantial cost savings
Joel Haskard
08/15/2017 - 10:33am
An innovative pilot project at the University of Minnesota looks into taking scum from waste water treatment plants and turning it into biodiesel that could be used in on-site vehicles. For University of Minnesota (UMN) researchers, scum is a word packed with profitable promise. College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) professor and Center for Biorefining director R. Roger Ruan and doctoral candidate Erik Anderson are converting scum into high-quality biodiesel. Scum, a white, muddy byproduct produced in wastewater treatment facilities, presents significant disposal challenges. Typically scum is treated either by anaerobic digestion to produce biogas, which has low energy density, or disposed of in a landfill, which causes many environmental problems. However, the process developed by Ruan and Anderson converts scum to biodiesel that can be directly used...
Photo by Baltine, Creative Commons
Frank Jossi
08/11/2017 - 11:28am
Interested in battery storage? Connexus, Minnesota’s largest retail electric cooperative, is working toward building Minnesota’s largest energy storage project supporting three of their solar projects. Reposted with permission from original article by Frank Jossi for Midwest Energy News. Minnesota’s largest retail electric cooperative is in negotiation with vendors to build the largest storage energy project in the state alongside three solar installations. Connexus Energy plans to install storage capable of storing 20 megawatts, the equivalent of 40 MW hours of energy, according to Brian Burandt, vice president of power supply and business development. “I believe it’s the largest project being contemplated at this time,” he said. “There are larger projects in...
MNIPL team planning for faith community outreach
Gordon Moore
07/20/2017 - 3:31pm
The energy revolution is spreading, and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) is doggedly determined to help Minnesota’s variety of faith communities join the movement. Although some energy efficiency and clean energy resources are available to congregations and other faith organizations, MNIPL staff wanted to jumpstart connections and empower congregations to live out their values. In an effort to further faith communities’ energy efficiency efforts, in 2016 the MNIPL Energy Efficiency Team undertook a Metro CERT-funded outreach project. Julia Nerbonne, MNIPL’s Executive Director, explained how this project lines up with values articulated by both MNIPL and many local faith organizations: “Our role in the community, in the broader energy movement, is to work with faith-based houses of worship to actualize their values in...
Working with Tangletown Minneapolis business owners on solar energy
Sophia Krohn
07/20/2017 - 12:36pm
Tucked into the south side of Minneapolis, Tangletown is a neighborhood interested in clean energy possibilities. The neighborhood hopes to foster a culture of energy sustainability by installing solar arrays in an urban setting. With a $1,000 Seed Grant from Metro CERT, they assessed four roofs and evaluated their suitability for installing solar arrays ranging in size from 40 kW up to 140 kW. In an era where environmental interest and campaigns are prolific, Joy Gottschalk from the board of Tangletown describes clean energy as “the elephant in the room; it is an environmental issue that affects all others.” Unlike environmental efforts for pollinators or clean water, Gottschalk has found that people often think they need a scientific background to understand energy. To start combating the silence around energy, Gottschalk has made...
Metro CERT staff ready for door knocking efforts
Sophia Krohn
07/19/2017 - 4:02pm
On June 28, Metro CERT paid a visit to Victoria, MN to talk to small businesses about energy-saving projects. CERT hoped to raise awareness about opportunities available through rebates and programs offered by their utilities. The quaint downtown was small, but energetic! During the visit, Metro CERT staff were able to talk with a total of 33 businesses in the city of lakes and parks. CERTs brought materials from CenterPoint and Xcel Energy to distribute to business owners. One program CERTs was especially hoping to spread the word about was the Natural Gas Energy Analysis offered through CenterPoint. This program provides a comprehensive assessment of a business’ natural gas use, a list of recommended energy saving improvements, and provides free direct install of things like programmable thermostats, low flow faucet aerators, and weather stripping during the analysis. These...
Electric school bus takes part in Lakeville Pan-O-Prog parade
Frank Jossi
07/13/2017 - 12:18pm
The Midwest’s first electric bus has arrived in Minnesota! How did this happen? “We’re nimble,” said David Ranallo Manager, Marketing & Member Services at Great River Energy. “The right time isn’t always the obvious time, but we’re always looking for innovation opportunities for Great River Energy and our cooperative membership. We’re taking steps to prove that this technology can work here, today.” The article below is re-posted from the original at Midwest Energy News by Frank Jossi. The electric school bus will begin transporting students in a suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul school district this fall, but for now it’s on a tour of the state, stopping at GRE member coops along the way. Unveiled...
Students at Cyprus Classical Academy work on energy conservation project
Dan Thiede
07/13/2017 - 11:37am
For many elementary schools, STEM programs consist of textbooks, online research and classroom experiments. For the students of Cyprus Classical Academy in Burnsville, STEM recently got real. This spring, 8- and 9-year-old students installed the school’s HVAC control system through a partnership with 75F, a local building automation company. Cyprus teachers saw this installation as an opportunity to teach their students about the real-world applications of STEM, including the importance of energy efficiency and air quality. The renovation not only created a unique learning experience for the students—the new system could save Cyprus nearly 50% annually on their HVAC energy expenses. Watch the students set up the system...

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