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The Popp Farm in Royalton, MN
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 5:02pm
In an age of disappearing small and medium size farms, Doug and Jane Popp are making their medium-sized dairy and crop operation near Royalton, MN work. After talking with them for a while, it becomes clear how. They have a passion for farming and the way of life it offers, and a keen eye for the bottom line—which includes a farmer’s frugality, as well as a creativity and willingness to seize good opportunities. Top on the list of these seized opportunities? The Popps put the wind, the sun, and energy efficient technologies to work for them!   Solar on Popp Farm   It all started in 2010, when a family member who was taking a course in renewable energy systems asked if he could use their farm to complete a solar assessment for a school assignment. Once they started looking, they realized they had a perfect spot up on the hill, just south of the wind turbine;...
Snow sits on traffic lights in the winter
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 10:34am
I heard a question recently about LED traffic signals and wanted to craft a response. Check out the question and answer below, then learn more about a Minnesota community’s experience. Question: I’ve heard LED traffic signal lights can present a problem in the northern climates. The concern is that the efficient LEDs, which put off very little heat, will need to have snow and ice removal maintenance, because the waste heat that previously melted the snow/ice is no longer there. Is this true? Answer: To find an answer to this question, I started by asking Andrea Lauer, mayor of Royalton, MN about her experience. Sarah: Your LED signals have been up for a few years now, has your city experienced any problems with this? If so, how do you address it? Andrea: We discussed the issue of possible snow/ice build up on LED lights before making the switch. We felt that if we had a...
Mayor Peter Lindstrom speaks about Falcon Heights
Sarah Hayden Shaw
01/08/2015 - 8:03am
Nearly two dozen city officials and engaged community members gathered in Little Falls on December 11, 2014 to receive hands-on training on how to drive sustainability in their area through the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 28 best practices. Each best practice is comprised of actions. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation. The program has expanded rapidly since its inception in 2010 with 75 cities currently engaged. Speakers at the event hailed from three Minnesota cities. Royalton: Participants heard from Andrea Lauer, mayor of...
USDA Rural Development
Alexis Troschinetz
01/07/2015 - 4:28pm
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from USDA Rural Development is a great opportunity for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses to save energy with efficiency work and add renewable energy systems. Grants can cover up to 25% of eligible project costs, and loans can cover up to 75% of eligible project costs. The funding has just been opened for 2015, and there is twice as much money available as usual (which may mean you have an even better chance of being funded). There is also a shorter application that can be completed without the help of a grant writer for smaller projects. See details below!   What is REAP all about, and how can I learn more?   The Basics: This year there will be two application windows for the renewable energy or energy efficiency grants: April 30 and June 30 Projects requesting grants of $20,000 ($80,000 total project cost) or...
Counties with community solar applications (larger map below)
Abby Finis
01/07/2015 - 1:51pm
To quote a recent article by David Shaffer at the Star Tribune, “Xcel Energy said that 427 applications have arrived from energy developers, a much bigger response than anticipated. The Minneapolis-based company said the applications propose a total of 420 megawatts of solar output, or the equivalent of a sizable power plant. A megawatt is 1 million watts.” Xcel Energy provided a list of each county and their number of proposed community solar projects on their Solar*Rewards Community webpage. But I thought, why not make a map so we can better visualize where they are? Who can subscribe? People can subscribe to projects in their own or an adjacent county, as long as they are in the...
Made-In-Minnesota Solar Rebate Program
MN Dept. of Commerce
01/05/2015 - 4:38pm
Applications for the second year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted beginning January 1 and ending February 28, 2015. The program, entering its second year, helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses, and communities. The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.   Program’s first year boosts state’s solar capacity   In 2014, the first year of the Made in Minnesota program, funding was awarded for 343 solar electric (or photovoltaic [PV]) projects and 20 solar thermal installations. The PV projects equal about 5.1 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity—equal to more than one-third of the state’s total solar capacity of 14 MW when the program began January 1, 2014. Over 10 years, the program is expected to help fund 4,000 solar installations and increase...
Keep your home cozy while saving energy this winter
Dan Thiede
01/05/2015 - 1:54pm
It’s cold again (really cold), which means we’re all looking for ways to save on energy costs. From the high-tech to the practical, here are some ways to make this winter an energy-saving (and money-saving) opportunity! Follow these tips and enjoy low energy costs from the warmth of your home: Install weather-stripping, caulk leaky doors, and seal your home. If you’re able, adding insulation to your walls and attic is another key way to keep that precious heated air from escaping. Turn down the heat! Lower your thermostat before leaving the house for extended periods. Using a programmable thermostat is a great way to effortlessly adjust the temperature based on your schedule. Change the filter on your furnace once a month so your furnace can breathe easy...
Recycle your holiday lights
Dan Thiede
01/05/2015 - 1:19pm
As you’re taking down the holiday lights in the coming weeks, you now have the option to recycle any that didn’t make it and avoid having to deal with a tangled mess of lights next season! The Recycling Association of Minnesota, ACE hardware stores, WCCO TV, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are once again working together to provide the Recycle Your Holidays program to Minnesotans. RYH is the only holiday light recycling program of its kind in the country. Who is involved? RAM provides the collection bins and collection services for ACE store customers and other businesses and organizations across Minnesota to recycle holiday lights during the holiday season. CERTs provides the map of these nearly 500 drop-off locations. Vocational centers and their clients are contracted by RAM to provide the pick-up service and sort the thousands of pounds of holiday...
A shot of attendees at the event
Bill Mittlefehldt
12/22/2014 - 12:01pm
A gaggle of northeast Minnesotans filled a room on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus on December 1, 2014 to learn about the City of Duluth’s clean energy updates. The event was hosted by Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT). Read on for links and summaries of presentations!         City of Duluth MN GreenStep Cities DyAnn Andybur, City of Duluth Energy Coordinator Duluth signed on to the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program in Spring 2014. GreenStep Cities is a voluntary best practice program that now has 75 cities participating across the State. Read more about the program here: http://greenstep.pca.state.mn.us/ Duluth has been working on variety of best practices which DyAnn highlighted in her presentation. A few highlights include a whole heap of energy related best practices including...
CERTs Community Solar Garden resources
Lissa Pawlisch
12/16/2014 - 8:35pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) have been receiving questions from across Minnesota about Community Solar Gardens. During many of these conversations it became clear that communities needed resources they could use to help subscribers understand how community solar works and what they needed to know. To meet these needs, CERTs and our partners have compiled a suite of resources open for use by individuals, communities, and solar companies alike to help everyone make well-informed decisions regarding Community Solar Garden projects.   CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens   The CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens provides an introduction to key concepts and definitions. It was created to illustrate how community solar gardens work, why people might be interested in subscribing, how...

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