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Saving Energy and Money at Home When You’re Away on Summer Vacation
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/08/2014 - 5:12pm
Are you planning an extended summer vacation—one week, two weeks, or more? Before leaving town, there are several simple steps you can take to save energy in your home—and save money. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has come up with the 5 money and energy saving tips: Turn down the temperature on your water heater. Water heating accounts for up to 20 percent of annual energy costs in a Minnesota home. No sense heating the water if you are not home to use it. Instead of the recommended setting of 120 degrees F, lower the temperature 10-20 degrees or turn the control knob to “vacation mode.” Read more to cut water heating bills. Set your thermostat (programmable or manual) at a higher temperature than usual. Again, no sense cooling your home if you’re not there. The Environmental Protection Agency...
Itasca Community College converting to biomass
Biomass Magazine
07/08/2014 - 2:23pm
Via a boiler system upgrade and use of local wood fuel, Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, hopes to serve as a case study for other heating districts of its size. Over the past several years, the college and its partners, which include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Swedish Bioenergy Association, have been investigating using wood fuel for a number of reasons, said Bart Johnson, project manager. “There are a few reasons why we think that’s important, but one of the main ones it that we live in a region of the U.S. where the forest products industry has a history of being prevalent, but it is in a declining state.” That has led to under-utilization of the state’s forests, which was the initial catalyst for the project, according to Johnson. That and the fact that wood heat technologies have dramatically advanced in recent decades, and the school...
Sheets of honey come off the drum dryers
Ben Fladhammer
07/01/2014 - 10:31am
In the food manufacturing business, Joel Manecke says, it’s almost impossible to operate without variable-frequency drives (VFDs). “It’s pretty critical,” says Manecke, manager of Specialty Products & Technology in Fosston, Minn. “I’ve run dryers in the past that didn’t have anything on them. But if you can’t change fan speeds, you really limit your capabilities.” Manecke and Specialty Products & Technology have increased their efficiencies since upgrading existing VFDs and also installing them in a new building at its Fosston business over the past two years. Specialty Products & Technology, which offers a variety of sweeteners made from pure honey and molasses, added a spray drying facility to its drum drying facility in 2013. The spray dryer is used to spray-dry honey and molasses powders. The company ships its products, which are used in such things as barbecue...
Coon Rapids accepts their award for Step 1 of GreenStep Cities
Dan Thiede
06/25/2014 - 11:10am
On Friday, June 20th, cities across Minnesota were recognized for their leadership in sustainability, energy efficiency, and resource conservation. Sixty-nine cities currently participate in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, and many of them received awards at the GreenStep Awards Breakfast at the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference. Currently 27% of the state’s population resides in a GreenStep city. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free, voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to assist all Minnesota cities in implementing 28 sustainability best practices. The League is working with the Preservation Alliance of MN, Clean Energy Resource Teams, Great Plains Institute, Izaak Walton League–MN Division, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Commerce-Division of Energy Resources, and Urban Land...
New LED lights in Langmo turkey barn
Alexis Troschinetz
06/25/2014 - 10:20am
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps farmers evaluate energy saving opportunities and provides financial assistance to help make energy upgrades happen. EQIP requires an audit first (the program pays for most—if not all—of it). After the audit, you can apply for financial assistance for a lighting project or any other recommendations in the audit. While applications for this program are accepted on a continuous basis, CERTs recently learned about the upcoming application cut-off dates. We wanted to be sure to share with you as soon as we knew about them! The EQIP application cut-off dates in 2014 are: July 18, August 15. The NRCS reviews all applications received by these cut-off dates in groups (and any submitted by previous cut-off dates in the same year but not funded) following each of these cut-...
Minnesota cities were matched with UMD students this past spring to work on sustainability issues.
Bill Mittlefehldt
06/20/2014 - 4:34pm
Minnesota cities have been matched with UMD students this spring to work on sustainability issues, and the collaboration promises a greener Minnesota in the 21st century. Communities are jumping at the opportunity to join a project called Minnesota GreenStep Cities. The cities make a commitment to manage their natural resources and achieve their quality-of-life goals. They look at issues including building and lighting; land use; economic and community development; transportation; and environmental management. The five cities are Duluth, Ely, Grand Marais, Pine City, and Silver Bay. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will join the UMD collaboration this summer. Michael Mageau, UMD assistant professor of environmental studies, set up spring internships for five UMD students through the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) program, the group that is managing the GreenStep project. All of the...
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has named five in-state bioenergy projects as recipients of NextGen Energy grants.
Joel Haskard
06/18/2014 - 4:21pm
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has named five in-state bioenergy projects as recipients of NextGen Energy grants. The five projects were selected out of a pool of 35, according to MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. All projects underwent consideration by a technical team made up of members from five state departments – agriculture, commerce, natural resources, pollution control, and employment and economic development. Projects were scored separately according to NextGen grant guidelines, and all are required at least a 50 percent match from the grantee. Grant recipients include: Easy Energy Systems, Welcome, Minn. – $500,000 – The project builds a showplace biofuel production facility capable of testing multiple feedstocks, verifying economic data, and confirming conversion rates in Welcome. Central Minnesota Renewables LLC, Little Falls, Minn....
Sarah Hayden, Central CERT Coordinator, welcoming the crowd to the workshop
Lindsay Wimmer
06/17/2014 - 11:55am
On June 12th in Staples the Region 5 Development Commission (R5DC) and Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT) hosted a workshop about the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), B3 Energy Benchmarking System (B3), and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) Peter Berger, GESP Program Manager, gave an overview of the program and answered questions after the session. GESP is a strategy to reduce overall operations & maintenance budgets, reduce energy use, and attain new energy efficiency equipment for public facilities. It is also a way to finance and install renewable energy technology. Most of the questions were around local job creation and how to get started with the program. GESP creates jobs because of the trade work that is required to install new equipment. The subcontractors need to be prequalified as annual...
A solar array will be going up on Good Counsel Hill.
Joel Haskard
06/13/2014 - 10:34am
See the original publication of this story by Wendy Wilde KTOE Radio Mankato News A solar array will be going up on Good Counsel Hill. A big one, by Minnesota standards, covering four-and-a-quarter acres and generating 907 kilowatts of power, which will be inverted to 13,800 volts AC, enough to power about 115 homes. The City of Mankato approved a conditional use permit for the solar farm on Monday. The Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato are partnering with Hopkins, Minnesota based solar power company Best Power International, to build the solar farm on their land near Loyola High School in Mankato. It will be the fifth largest solar installation in Minnesota. At least, for now, as numerous other solar farms are now in the planning stages. “It will be considered a relatively small distributed solar project in...
Discovering answers to questions about LED Street Lighting
Lissa Pawlisch
06/11/2014 - 2:00pm
During our February CERT Conference back in 2013 several regions expressed interest in LED Street Lighting. Since that time interest has only grown and there are many local governments starting to move forward with projects – including a few CERT Seed Grant Recipients. To help ourselves better respond to questions about LED street lighting we began to sift through recent reports to tease out answers to the most common questions we were hearing. Rather than keep that to ourselves, we decided we’d be better off sharing that information with all of you. Here goes! The first question we were often asked was, “Is there funding for LED Street Lighting Retrofits?” The short answer is, maybe. The longer answer is that some utilities in Minnesota have LED Street Lighting rebates. Your best bet would be to talk directly with your local utility about what rebates they have to support this sort...

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