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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...
8.5kW Winona residential solar installation by Innovative Power Systems in 2010
Chris Meyer
04/10/2017 - 11:47am
Over sixty Winona county residents crowded into the Winona City Hall on a recent brisk March Saturday morning to learn the “Seven Steps to a Solar Ready Home.” Because every dollar spend on energy efficiency reduces the size of a needed solar electric generating system energy, efficiency can actually reduce a homeowner’s cost for a solar system by three to five times. Getting ready for a solar system is all about energy efficiency! The event was a partnership of CERTs, Sustain Winona, and the Jefferson Center as the first of a number of events to raise awareness about energy and water use in the region. Networking with local solar electric system installers and local electric utilities (Xcel and MiEnergy) was also available at the event. Step 1: Get an energy audit To know what needs improvement a homeowner has to know how their house is currently performing, so...
Mayor Peter Lindstrom shows off solar panels atop Falcon Heights City Hall
Trevor Drake
04/05/2017 - 10:30am
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...
Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive
Lissa Pawlisch
04/05/2017 - 9:30am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce just announced their 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Incentive Program lottery results. This year the program will support 679 new projects and 10.23 MW of capacity—that’s a lot! Minnesota Power’s SolarSense Program also expanded this year. A random selection of applicants for the 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program was completed on March 22, and 679 new residential and commercial solar electric (PV) systems were chosen to receive funding in the fourth year of the 10-year program. The random selection process was conducted by a third-party vendor. Applicants to the 2017 PV incentive program will be notified by the Minnesota Department of Commerce through...
Dan Thiede
04/04/2017 - 4:44pm
Every week there has been news of solar installations breaking ground, getting installed, and pumping clean electricity into Minnesota’s grid. It appears we’re definitely in the midst of a solar boom! We pulled together a few of the best recent stories for your perusal. Enjoy!   As energy mix becomes cleaner, Minnesotans paying less for it Midwest Energy News   Consumers have seen flat or declining energy costs as renewable energy becomes a greater part of the energy mix of Minnesota and the nation. That’s one of the findings in the annual 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy....
2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference
Dan Thiede
04/04/2017 - 3:25pm
Interest in reducing the energy consumption of livestock has certainly grown, not only from a consumer’s perspective, but also from producers—for both cost-saving and environmental reasons. For example, within swine facilities, electricity is used in two major areas. First, for delivering feed and water, and secondly, for removing heat in the summer and providing heat in winter. This raises the question—are there things producers can do in the summer to lessen the need for electricity and make facilities more efficient? Similarly, are there things producers can do during the winter months to reduce the use of propane? Researchers at the U of MN West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris, have been working to address these challenges by developing optimized and cost-effective energy systems for both swine and dairy production systems. The Midwest Farm...
Attendees kick the tires on electric vehicles in Little Falls
Sarah Hayden Shaw
04/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Over 40 people stopped by the Sprout Growers and Makers Fair in Little Falls on Saturday, March 25th to learn more about electric vehicles. On display was a sleek black Tesla Model S owned by Jessee Holmes, and a sporty-looking blue 2016 Nissan LEAF owned by Jeff Riegle. The owners even stayed after the event was over to answer tons of questions from attendees! “It was a smashing success!” said Sarah Hayden Shaw, Central CERT Regional Coordinator. “100 or more people walked by the cars, which were parked right by the front door, most everyone at least craned their neck to see what the fuss was about, and 40 or so actually stopped to ask questions.” Two other Tesla owners attended the event, and helped field the onslaught of questions from interested attendees. They planned to stop in to the Tesla Supercharger station at the Baxter Arrow Wood Lodge...

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