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CERTs summer interns Emma Ryan and Jinny Kim
Alexis Troschinetz
06/21/2016 - 2:48pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams get to host two interns this summer, one at the Great Plains Institute and another at the University of Minnesota. Keep reading to learn a little more about their studies, what they’ll be working on, and how to reach out.     Welcome, Emma Ryan!   Metro CERT is pleased to welcome Emma Ryan this summer as our Metro CERT Sustainable Communities Intern at the Great Plains Institute. Emma’s work will focus mainly on assisting with the 2016 Accelerator clean energy projects and seed grant projects, as well as working to develop a shared clean energy vision. As a rising Environmental Studies senior at Yale, she studies energy, sustainability, and health and has been involved with research-scale solar projects and solar outreach and education at Yale for three years....
Minnesota GreenStep Cities
Bill Mittlefehldt
06/21/2016 - 9:01am
There are now more than 100 cities in Minnesota participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Most of the cities involved are small-to-medium-sized cities where the support of a savvy intern can help staff go the extra step on accomplishing best practices. But how should a mutually-beneficial internship be structured and run? A new GreenStep Cities Internship Manual answers these questions and more! If your city is looking for the support of an intern but unsure how to structure the mutually-beneficial opportunity, then the new Minnesota GreenStep Cities Intern Manual will be a valuable resource that can help you each step of the way. The GreenStep Cities intern for the City of La Crescent was recently featured...
Dan Thiede
06/20/2016 - 1:44pm
Minnesota is not too shabby when it comes to clean energy these days. Below are recent reports from two national organizations, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), highlighting Minnesota’s place in the solar and wind energy landscape. SEIA 2015 Report Minnesota expected to crack top 10 states for annual solar installations Minnesota is poised to climb from 25th to the top 10 states for annual solar installations in 2016, according to state solar projections. Based on utility filings and industry projections, the Minnesota Department of Commerce expects the state’s solar capacity to increase by more than 500 megawatts (MW) in 2016. This will be a 15-fold increase in the state’s total installed solar energy capacity of 35 MW at the end of 2015. If the 500 MW had been added in 2015, it would have made...
Solar thermal heating at an outdoor public swimming pool in Toronto. Source: Canada SolarCity Partnership
Joel Haskard
06/09/2016 - 7:08am
There are a lot of communities with outdoor swimming pools in Minnesota, and many of them struggle with the high costs of keeping them heated. Kelly Fischer, who just completed her work as program assistant with the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, created a step-by-step manual to help folks use a free software system and figure out the payback for a solar thermal system installed at their community swimming pool. We caught up with Kelly to learn more. Can you tell us a little bit about RETscreen and the user manual you have created?   Kelly Fischer: RETScreen is a free software system that assesses the feasibility of projects in the areas of renewable energy and sustainability. By entering numbers based on the...
Robin Weis (left) and Gene Metz (right) helped Maria Paarga find funding for energy efficient upgrades in Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant. Alex Chhith/Daily Globe
Joel Haskard
06/08/2016 - 12:21pm
If you happen to be in Worthington, be sure and stop into Mini Market Lupita for a delicious lunch in the restaurant or to shop at the attached grocery store. Owner Maria Parga has created a great place, and she has done so partly by working with economic development partners in the region to take advantage of existing programs to reduce her energy costs. Working with the Southwest Initiative Foundation and the Clean Energy Resource Teams, Parga was awarded a $20,000 grant from the USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). Mini Market Lupita had been using open-faced refrigeration stations and freezer chests for years, but with help from the grant, Parga was able to offset...
Hi-Lo Supper Club & Catering
Joel Haskard
06/08/2016 - 11:37am
Sid and Nadine Malchow own the Hi-Lo Supper Club & Catering in Lakefield, MN, and have been an important thread in their community’s fabric over the years. In fact, the Hi-Lo Restaurant & Catering has been proudly serving Southwest Minnesota and Northern Iowa with fine dining for over 65 years, and the Malchows have been providing catering services for over 25 years. Now, thanks to Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, they were able to make lots of improvements to their establishment. Among other things, they upgraded their lighting on their exterior, the main floor and the basement, installed efficient air conditioning and fan motors, and upgraded the furnaces in the main dining room and food preparation area. “PACE allowed this business to make several energy saving improvements...
Clean Energy Community Awards
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...
Attendees at Appleton solar event
Kristi Fernholz
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,...
Main Street Repeats Thrift Store
Annette Fiedler
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...
CERTs solar array tour at Deep Portage
Lissa Pawlisch
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...

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