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Dept. of Commerce
06/08/2016 - 8:23am
If your community is doing work on energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy and would like to be recognized for it, submit your initiatives to the new Minnesota Clean Energy Community Awards! The Clean Energy Community Awards are an acknowledgment of the work done by Minnesota communities to further the state’s clean energy goals by implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. Award recipients will receive many benefits, including recognition at high profile public events, media exposure, achievement awards, and community signage. Benefits Applicant communities will be invited to attend an event at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair, where award finalists will be announced. Finalist communities (up to 10) will have their...
06/03/2016 - 12:47pm
On Tuesday afternoon, May 24, 2016, the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission hosted a West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams (WC CERT) event focused on all things solar. The event was geared toward helping participants understand what solar means for local government, planning agencies, and residents. A room full of 36 people gathered to soak up the information. Kristi Fernholz, a Senior Planner for the UMVRDC and WC CERT Coordinator welcomed the group, and after a brief round of introductions, we were off and running. Topics that were covered included everything from solar basics and what various sized solar systems look like on the landscape to considerations for solar planning and zoning, net metering and subscribing to a community solar garden. Annette Fiedler, Southwest CERT Coordinator with the Southwest Regional Development Commission and Lissa Pawlisch,...
05/26/2016 - 7:23am
If you are in Good Thunder (pop. 583) looking for a fun thrift store to update your home décor, stop into Main Street Repeats. Owners George and Maureen Spear not only have great deals awaiting the discerning customer, they also know a great deal when they see one: they recently upgraded their lights to LEDs using the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Located in Blue Earth County, Main Street Repeats recently worked with the Southwest Regional Development Commission utilize PACE. After an energy audit performed by Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), the LED lighting project was going to cost $9,980. They wisely turned to their electric utility, Xcel Energy, to claim the $1,728 in lighting rebates, knocked the price down to $8,252. According...
05/26/2016 - 6:55am
Deep Portage, a nonprofit Environmental Learning Center located near Hackensack, Minnesota, has a powerful story to tell of how they are building a sustainable energy future in Central Minnesota. Clean energy work has made Deep Portage stand out as a leader in energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. In 2011 Deep Portage turned on its first solar electric array with a rated capacity of 8 kW and a 10 kW wind turbine. By the end of 2015 Deep Portage had expanded its electricity clean energy from the original 18 kW to 58 kW, which has resulted in clean electric power generation rising from 5,755 kWh in 2011 to 57,284 kWh in 2015. In addition, Deep Portage purchases green credits valued at 226,800 kWh annually of clean energy. In 2015, through its own renewable energy production and purchase of green credits, 100% of Deep...
05/26/2016 - 6:44am
Quantity Quotes, a free online marketplace for competitive quotes on EPA’s Water Sense and ENERGY STAR products (light bulbs, faucet aerators, showerheads, pre-rinse sprayers, and more). It was developed by the Department of Energy and is now managed by a local government agency in California, Stop Waste. We talked to our own Alexis Troschinetz to find out more. How does Quantity Quotes work? Alexis Troschinetz: It is a portal for buyers and suppliers to meet. You create a profile, fill out a form for the type of product you would like, and then a message automatically goes out to all the vendors that provide that product. You have your own message board in the portal, where you’ll watch for individual messages from each vendor with draft quotes for that product. Who can use Quantity Quotes? Alexis Troschinetz:...
05/24/2016 - 6:57am
USDA Rural Development State Director recently announced funding to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems. “This funding will allow local rural small businesses and ag producers the opportunity to invest in improvements that will reduce energy usage or use energy more efficiently,” Landkamer said. “It also empowers rural America to pave the way to our nation’s energy independence.” Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) will receive a $70,060 grant to assist approximately 67 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Southwestern Minnesota by coordinating and promoting energy audits in over 18 counties through its Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Energy Audit Assistance program. Energy audits can help recipients determine the most effective ways to...
04/19/2016 - 4:03pm
On a sunny afternoon in South Minneapolis on March 22nd, just as school was getting out and cars zoomed past on 35W overhead, a celebration of local energy innovation was on display at Taqueria La Hacienda on East Lake Street. The event, hosted by the Lake Street Council, highlighted the work of the Council and its partners over the past 18 months to pilot “Energy Coaching”—an effort to help under-served and minority-owned small businesses take advantage of rebates and grants that can make energy efficiency improvements palatable, even for businesses with low profit margins. The program, which I’ve described in more detail here, attempted to build on the small-business energy efficiency programs that are already available in Xcel Energy territory by deploying so-called...
04/18/2016 - 5:22pm
Hamdi Restaurant, offering traditional Somali food on East Lake Street, was eager to participate in the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership program to improve the energy efficiency of the business and lower the electric bill. A representative, or “Energy Coach” from the Lake Street Council and Energy Efficiency Specialists from the Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart Program have teamed up to make energy efficiency accessible to area businesses. Before an Energy Coach from the Lake Street Council stopped by Hamdi Restaurant to share information about the program, restaurant owner Abdishakur Elmi was already experiencing many problems with the lighting inside and outside of his building, and high utility costs were a major concern. After learning about the variety of technical and financial assistance programs available, Elmi saw this program as a way to address many of his...
04/18/2016 - 5:19pm
A co-owner of Safari Restaurant, Sade Hashi, was confident in his decision to take advantage of the energy efficiency assistance provided by the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership, a jointly run program between the Lake Street Council and the Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart Program. A representative, or “Energy Coach” from the Lake Street Council and Energy Efficiency Specialists from the Energy Smart Program have teamed up to help make energy efficiency accessible to area businesses. Safari Restaurant is known for its exceptional Somali cuisine and events center. After learning that the program could help lower his monthly electric bill and improve the atmosphere of Safari, Hashi was excited to take advantage of the opportunity. Hashi says, “This is a program that brings beneficial resources to entrepreneurs.” Prior to learning about the program, he was looking to improve...
04/18/2016 - 5:14pm
El Nuevo Rodeo, a vibrant restaurant and events center, is nearly always busy serving authentic Mexican cuisine and hosting small and large events. While owner Maya Santamaria is busy making sure her patrons are satisfied and events are nothing but successful, building manager Sergio Maldonado is working hard to find ways to increase the energy efficiency of his building and reduce operation costs. Maldonado was enthusiastic about the opportunity to improve El Nuevo’s building operations through the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership, a jointly run program between the Lake Street Council and the Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart Program. A representative, or “Energy Coach” from the Lake Street Council and Energy Efficiency Specialists from the Energy Smart Program have teamed up to help make energy efficiency accessible to area businesses. Maldonado found out about the...