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New LED street light being installed in Detroit Lakes, MN
Joel Haskard
07/01/2015 - 1:51pm
In 2014, the City of Detroit Lakes was looking at aesthetic and infrastructure upgrades to Washington Ave, including plans to retrofit the existing high pressure sodium (HPS) street lights to LEDs. “One of our goals was to create public awareness of LED lighting through this project and showcase our goal to retrofit all street lighting to LEDs,” said Josh Mason, energy services specialist with the city’s public utility. “Since Washington Ave is our main street, we wanted the project to be highly visible and much talked about in Detroit Lakes.” The project hit some bumps along the way when two separate rounds of bidding came in over budget. After the second round of bids were rejected, the city decided to replace six lights mounted on existing traffic signals in 2014. In summer of 2015, the city will complete the installation of the remaining street lights, which will be more...
Joel Haskard
07/01/2015 - 1:28pm
The goal of the Renewable Energy Outreach Project was to promote the benefits of solar heating systems, particularly for low-income households in Northwest Minnesota. Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM) collaborated with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), a nonprofit organization that has been manufacturing and installing solar heat furnaces since 2000, to sponsor a Solar Air Heat Outreach Specialist apprenticeship to educate and engage service organizations and energy interests in addressing energy poverty through long-term renewable solutions. The NW CERT Seed Grant helped CCM enroll two half-time specialists, Adam Mehr and Ryan Meyer, in apprenticeship positions during 2014 to do energy outreach work in Northwestern Minnesota. At RREAL’s headquarters and manufacturing...
Testing water heater during energy audit
Isaac Mielke
06/29/2015 - 2:36pm
The Energy CENTs Coalition is collaborating with CenterPoint Energy this summer to offer the Low Income Rental Efficiency Program. Available for property owners renting to income-eligible tenants of 1-4 unit properties, this conservation opportunity will help to reduce energy costs for low-income tenants and their landlords. The program provides a free, no-obligation energy audit that will make recommendations about insulation levels and furnace, boiler, or water heater replacements. CenterPoint Energy will cover 50% of the costs of recommended upgrades. Wondering what upgrades might cost? Here’s an example depending on your building: Dwelling Audit/Inspection (free with program) Weatherization (insulation/air sealing) Furnace/Boiler Water Heater Single Family $350 $3,000...
Biomass-powered greenhouse at Len Busch Roses
Isaac Mielke
06/29/2015 - 2:32pm
Since 1972, Len Busch Roses has used environmentally friendly biomass boilers to heat its greenhouse. This Plymouth business, the only rose grower in the United States outside of California, employs over 150 people. Sprawling across 15 acres, the company produces seven million flowers each year. Second-generation owner Patrick Busch credits this unique success to biomass fuel. The business receives local chips, brush, and logs, and grinds them to specification. Depending on the season and demand, Len Busch Roses either immediately uses or stores these tree trimmings. Two boilers consume the wood, completely heating the half-million square feet of greenhouses. Biomass fuel offsets the high costs of natural gas for heating a greenhouse, saving on energy bills. A renewable resource, it also eliminates waste. While the initial...
Erin Smith
06/24/2015 - 2:01pm
McLeod Cooperative Power held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of its Community Solar Project on June 23. Some of the members participating in the community solar array, Coop directors and employees, and representatives from Great River Energy, participated in the event. Thirty-nine cooperative members have subscribed to 82% of the panels in the array. Eighteen panels are still available for their members. Members may subscribe to one or more panels, at a cost of $1,550 per panel, and receive the kWh output of their share of the array for the next 20 years. Member’s electric bills are reduced by the solar kWh credit applied to their bill each month. The McLeod Cooperative Power community solar project has 100 solar panels. It is 41 kW (dc) system manufactured by tenKsolar of Bloomington, Minnesota. It...
Cologne MN
Isaac Mielke
06/16/2015 - 2:06pm
Cologne’s City Council unanimously agreed to source 100% of the city’s electricity needs from community solar. Located 30 miles west of Minneapolis in Carver County, this city of 1,519 will become the first local government in Minnesota to be powered completely by solar energy. The city will subscribe to a community solar garden at the nearby Bongards cheese plant. SunShare, a community solar company from Colorado with a new office in Minneapolis, is organizing the garden. Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program allows customers to subscribe to gardens and sell the output back to Xcel Energy, mitigating monthly bills. The 25-year deal will save Cologne $1.1 million, or $44,000...
Power Up Winona Community Solar
Michelle Palm
06/16/2015 - 10:31am
Residents and businesses in Winona County have organized around the prospect of getting a one megawatt community solar garden project installed in their Xcel Energy service territory. They call the effort Power Up Winona Community Solar, and it’s really picking up steam. We interviewed Chris Meyer, a local resident and energy expert, to learn more about the partnership and their goals. This project also received a Southeast CERT Seed Grant in the 2014-2015 round of funding. Michelle Palm: Why did you decide to take on this Community Solar Garden project? Chris Meyer: I know lots of folks in Winona who wanted to install solar and have shade trees or their roofs aren’t appropriate, so I knew there were people in Winona who wanted access to solar and didn’t have it. Michelle Palm: What has been the...
Electric Vehicle Charging Available Here Sign
Joel Haskard
06/15/2015 - 3:37pm
For public entities in Minnesota, a new statewide contract for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE or charging stations) is now in place. Vendor product and contact information is available on the Minnesota Department of Administration website. The purpose of this statewide contract is to relieve the burden of each entity having to perform a request for bid and award contract process. EVSE can still be purchased outside this contract through your own competitive bid and procurement processes. We spoke with Fran Crotty, Electric Vehicle State Program Administrator at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to learn a bit more. Joel Haskard: So if I am a city or county official interested in purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging station for my community, how would this work? Fran Crotty: Cities and counties can log into...
New small wind turbine at UMD farm
Isaac Mielke
06/15/2015 - 10:13am
On Earth Day last month, the University of Minnesota Duluth unveiled its new wind turbine and let it spin in the breeze for the first time. Located at the UMD farm, this 65 foot, 5-kilowatt turbine boasts very little friction, thanks to internal magnetic gears. The magnets in the Wind Tech, Inc turbine transfer force between shafts without touching, eliminating oil and slowing the blades, which bolsters efficiency and decreases maintenance costs. This novel technology stems from the funding and resources of nine different groups, including seed grants from NE CERT and Northeast Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. Resulting from collaboration among students, faculty, and staff from the...
Alexis Troschinetz
06/14/2015 - 3:23pm
Nonprofits anywhere in Minnesota can take advantage of 0% loans from Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) before the end of June. If you have a plan for an improvement primarily intended to reduce energy consumption just sitting on the shelf waiting for money to come along, then don’t miss out on this opportunity! Here are some other requirements to keep in mind: Maximum Loan: $25,000 Maximum Term: 5-7 years Existing building occupied in whole or in part by nonprofit Simple payback of 2-10 years and payback must be less than useful life The loan rate will increase to 3.9% after June. Make your project happen today—call Jim and tell him CERTs sent ya! Jim Hasnik Senior Loan Officer, NMLS #1000308 jhasnik@mncee.org 612-335-5885 or 1-855-296-5626 (LOAN)...


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