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Organizers of the Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth say 80 to 85 percent of the 3.5 million lights that fill Bayfront Park this year are LEDs. Derek Montgomery | For MPR News 2014
Dan Thiede
12/01/2016 - 1:53pm
Are you still stringing the same old incandescent decorative lights for the holidays?   For many Minnesotans, the house, porch, shrubs and trees are donned with holiday lights. Depending on one’s holiday lighting enthusiasm, a home can save between $10 to $250 each holiday season by switching to LED holiday lighting. This is because, according to the Department of Energy, LED holiday lights save up to 90% of the energy used by traditional incandescent holiday lights. LEDs are also safer, sturdier, longer lasting, and easier to install. Fill your stocking with energy savings: For every old holiday lighting string recycled and replaced with more efficient LED holiday lighting, 19 kilowatt-hours of electricity are saved over the course of the holiday season. This is the same amount of energy as a common CFL household light bulb would use if left on for 24 hours a day for 2...
Joel Haskard
11/30/2016 - 4:30pm
Austin Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit electric, water, and natural gas utility, serving more than 12,000 customers within a community of over 23,000 people in Austin, MN. The utility officially opened its new, energy-efficient 105,000 sq. ft. Service and Operation Center at the end of July. We interviewed General Manager Mark Nibaur to learn more.   Tell us a little bit about the new building.   Mark Nibaur: The building allowed Austin Utilities to consolidate departments operating out of seven different buildings and three properties. The new facility has all operations from customer service, administrative, gas/water/electric construction, meter shops and labs for all three utilities, warehouse, vehicle storage and fleet repair. The new building would be labeled as a “Typical Midwest Utility and Public Works” style. The facility incorporates an...
Solar array financed with PACE atop the Greenway Office Building in Minneapolis
Diana McKeown
11/02/2016 - 3:30pm
The Greenway Office Building—located a block from the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis—epitomizes green buildings both in design and location. Built in 1999 by the Green Institute (a former CERTs partner organization), the building includes solar PV, geothermal heating and cooling, and a green roof. Constructed to many of the design points of LEED (Leadership Energy Efficient Design) this ENERGY STAR building hosts many nonprofit and for-profit tenants working toward better housing and a more energy independent future. Wellington Management recently utilized PACE financing to replace the building’s aging solar PV array. What is PACE? Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive...
MN Dept. of Commerce
11/01/2016 - 1:33pm
There are some basic energy-saving steps we can all take to keep the warm air in and our utility bills down this fall and winter. A few simple no-cost or low-cost measures can make a big difference for the safety, comfort and efficiency of our homes. The Minnesota Commerce Department, which includes the State Energy Office, offers the following tips: Get an energy audit. The first step to energy efficiency is an advanced home energy assessment to diagnose the best ways to save energy. An audit can be arranged through your utility or a nonprofit energy group. Lower your thermostat. When you are at home or awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or away from home, turn your thermostat down about 10 degrees—either manually or...
Attendees at Woodbury community solar gardens workshop
Lissa Pawlisch
10/31/2016 - 11:46am
On October 27th, 2016 around 40 people gathered at Woodbury City Hall to learn about community solar gardens and network with experts and developers. Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. They’re great for people that want to go solar but are unable to do so on their own. Attendees lived in apartments or condos, had shaded roofs at home, didn’t have space for solar, or were simply interested in learning more.   Workshop Agenda: Terry Chaney from the Neighborhood Energy Connection kicked off the meeting talking to attendees about energy efficiency opportunities and programs that people should consider when going solar. Learn more about programs. Next we heard from Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Statewide Director, about the basics about...
SE CERT tours Red Wing solar projects, including this carport at City Hall
Chris Meyer
10/26/2016 - 12:13pm
On September 26, over twenty five people joined the Southeast CERT tour of the City of Red Wing’s clean energy projects. Maintenance Shop: The tour began at Red Wing Public Works Maintenance Shop, where participants learned about Red Wing’s recycled waste oil from fleet vehicles used to partially heat the public works building, LED street lighting, and production of 87,800 kW/h from two solar arrays. The maintenance shop is net negative energy, as the electricity is provided by solar and they use waste oil from other projects to heat the shop. City Hall: Folks then carpooled downtown to see the solar installation over the City Hall Car Port, which not only generates power but has the added benefit of shading parked cars in the summer and providing cover from the snow in the winter. “People love it and try to get here early to park to the winter,” said Jay McCleary, retired Public...
Diana McKeown introduces Metro CERT Staff at Annual Event
Diana McKeown
10/26/2016 - 11:58am
Nearly 200 people attended the 9th annual Metro CERT event on October 18th at the University of St. Thomas for a two-part afternoon event followed by networking.   An energy-efficient venue: Elise Amel, psychology professor welcomed attendees to the Anderson Student Center, the first LEED certified project on the St. Thomas campus. The building is designed to reduce energy use by 17% beyond code requirements, attained in the following ways: Building insulation by thermal envelope High-performance windows and glazing Lighting and temperature controls Variable air volume controls Daylight sensors for light fixtures High-efficiency pumps, motors and fans Additional high-efficiency equipment 92% of all regularly occupied spaces have individual occupant electricity controls. In 2014 we added 96 photovoltaic panels manufactured by tenKsolar in...
Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
10/25/2016 - 10:39am
Eight communities are receiving 2016 Minnesota Clean Energy Community Awards from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The program recognizes communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. The eight awardees and their clean energy efforts are summarized below.     Achievement Awards City of Hutchinson Clean Energy Generation: Capped Landfill Solar Development In November 2015, the City of Hutchinson completed construction of a 400 kW solar array constructed on a capped landfill. The array is the first of its kind in Minnesota and will be a model for ushering in the solar revolution in Minnesota while minimizing environmental impacts of solar arrays.   City of Minneapolis...
Project North Star in Minnesota receives funding from DOE SunShot Initiative
Dept. of Commerce
10/20/2016 - 4:08pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has been awarded a $2 million grant that will help realize Minnesota’s goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030. The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is called “Project North Star: Illuminating the Way to PV Integration.” It will combine a stakeholder collaboration process with technical analysis to support Minnesota’s deployment of solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics (PV). “Diversifying Minnesota’s energy portfolio with additional solar electricity will create new economic opportunities for people across our state, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that hurt our health and environment,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank the U.S. Department of Energy for providing the grant, and look forward to working with our Minnesota-based...
Working on a plane in the newly insulated AirCorps Aviation shop
Anna Carlson
10/13/2016 - 12:28pm
Bemidji’s AirCorps Aviation specializes in the restoration, maintenance, and rebuilding of vintage WWII aircraft. They’re now working from more comfortable, well-lit, and energy-efficient buildings thanks to lighting and insulation improvements financed with PACE. What is PACE? Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing. To learn more about the project, we interviewed Sara Zimmerman, Business Coordinator at AirCorps Aviation.   What motivated you to apply for...

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