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02/09/2016 - 2:47pm
Here at CERTs we have been getting a few questions recently about stray voltage with regards to clean energy project, so we thought it would be useful to share some resources for people to learn more. While stray voltage can be a concern in certain situations, it’s unlikely to arise when work is done by professional contractors in partnership with electric utilities. Minnesota Stray Voltage Guide A number of utilities in Minnesota came together to create the Minnesota Stray Voltage Guide, which outlines the steps that farmers, electrical contractors, utilities and their advisors can take to discover and resolve stray voltage concerns on livestock farms. When farmers and utility companies work together, stray voltage concerns are more likely to be satisfactorily resolved. The Guide includes a list of common...
02/09/2016 - 10:30am
Based in Burnsvile, Minnesota, 75F caught our eye by winning a slew of awards in the last few years. We spoke with Jane Kaster, Marketing Director for 75F, to learn more about their high-tech solutions for helping people save energy. Can you tell us a little about 75F? Jane Kaster: 75F is a building automation system that makes light commercial buildings more comfortable and energy efficient. The name was inspired by the fact that the human body is most comfortable at 75° Fahrenheit. In fact, a July, 2008 United Nations campaign called for raising the thermostats in the United Nations Secretariat building from 70° F to 75° F for the world body’s conference rooms. Using Internet of Things design, 75F harnesses the computing power of the cloud and packs it into smart HVAC devices that make people more...
02/08/2016 - 10:03am
Solar panels made in Minneapolis? You betcha! Itek Energy opened their Minneapolis facility just over a year ago, in January of 2015. We spoke with Paul Krumrich to learn more about their burgeoning business. Getting settled: Headquartered in Washington State, Itek Energy started production of solar panels in 2011, and partnership with Spye Inc. was Itek’s first step to bringing their panels into the booming Minnesota solar market. Solar installers Powerfully Green and All Energy were the initial two installers in Minnesota utilizing Itek panels. Itek spent 2015 getting their foot in the door to the Minnesota solar community. Itek Energy now has six employees in South Minneapolis. Many of them bike to work, and they conveniently share their building with a bike...
02/05/2016 - 1:09pm
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is accepting applications from organizations interested in participating as a host site for the 2016 – 2017 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps program. Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00 pm CDT on Friday, March 18, 2016. About: Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA, which places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. More Info: Host site application packets, including a detailed guidance document and the application are available on the Minnesota GreenCorps website. Please...
02/04/2016 - 10:00am
What do people living and working in your community want in energy efficiency and sustainability? Communities can partner with Xcel Energy to identify and prioritize their energy needs. The utility provides tools and resources to develop a plan and then supports putting it into action. It’s called Partners in Energy. Xcel Energy launched the offering in 2014. So far, 11 communities have committed to the two-year energy planning platform. Residents, local businesses, city operations, and municipal leaders work together to create energy plans. It’s a coordinated effort that’s truly rooted in the local community. Watch a short video here. “We‘re excited to see...
02/03/2016 - 12:05pm
The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) were recently extended. Set to expire at the end of 2016, both will now continue to support clean energy in Minnesota for several years. We interviewed Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, to learn more about the importance of these tax credits to Minnesota and what the extension means for the industries in our state. As Commissioner, Rothman oversees the Department’s broad jurisdiction of more than 20 regulated industries. Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy. Can you describe the federal ITC and PTC and how they work? Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman: The ITC, which became...
02/03/2016 - 10:22am
What is REEGP? The Renewable Energy Equipment Grant program (REEGP), provides Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) providers grant funding to install renewable energy equipment in low-income households. The statute that appropriates these funds specifically calls for the installation of renewable energy equipment in households; however, historically, the state provided funds to help make heating systems more efficient (the first program retrofitted oil burning furnaces). In keeping with the original intent, REEGP was designed to provide supplemental heat through the installation of renewable energy technologies in eligible households under Minnesota’s WAP. Initially, solar air heating and high efficiency wood boilers were approved by REEGP as a direct source of supplemental heat. As solar photovoltaic and direct solar photovoltaic-thermal technology costs have...
02/03/2016 - 9:34am
The City of Richfield has identified energy efficiency as an important way that homeowners can reduce residential utility bills, improve household maintenance and safety, and protect the environment by reducing pollution emitted from energy production. The City of Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority (RHRA) took advantage of a Metro CERT Seed Grant to increase participation in a home energy savings program by identifying and addressing barriers to participation within Richfield’s growing Latino community. A population that has nearly tripled since 2000, Latino households in Richfield now make up 18% of the population (according to the 2010 census). Before this project, participation by Latino residents in city-sponsored housing programs remained low. In order to implement such a project, a strategic partnership was necessary. In the winter of 2014...
02/02/2016 - 5:06pm
SciTechsperience connects college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines with paid internships that provide rewarding hands-on experience in small to mid-sized Minnesota businesses. Objectives: Develop Minnesota’s STEM workforce by providing hands-on learning opportunities to talented college students in dynamic Minnesota STEM industries. Keep talented STEM students in Minnesota after they graduate in order to strengthen and advance Minnesota’s knowledge-based economy. Benefits: Businesses receive a dollar-for-dollar cash match for up to 50% of the intern’s wages ($2,500 max), providing a low-cost solution for small and medium-sized companies that otherwise would not have access to qualified interns. Enables employers to find future employees, increase productivity and revitalize...
02/02/2016 - 2:05pm
We recently spoke with Dan Husted, Vice President of Energy Services with Lake Region Electric Cooperative, about an innovative program they have created to provide quality LED light bulbs to their membership. It’s called EASY-PAY LED Lighting, and you can read on to learn more! What made you decide to distribute LEDs to your membership in this way? Dan Husted, LREC: It’s just a small program but it’s provided us with an opportunity to innovate. As an electric co-op utility, we encourage energy efficiency and we offer rebates for certain energy efficient products, like LED’s. Our goal is to keep electricity bills affordable for our members and our rebate programs also help us meet our state’s CIP energy conservation goals. Our online store provides Lake Region members an...