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02/17/2016 - 9:58am
As part of our Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota work, we’ve spoken with a lot of farmers and and small business owners that have taken advantage of the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). But did you know that electric cooperatives can utilize this excellent resource, too? We spoke with Rich Whitcomb, Member Services Director with the Red River Valley Cooperative Power Association headquartered in Halstad, Minnesota. Tell us a little bit about your recent LED lighting project. Rich Whitcomb: Red River Valley Co-op Power was awarded a USDA REAP grant to change out all its 175-watt mercury vapor security lights still in operation to 48-watt LED security...
MN Dept. of Commerce
02/16/2016 - 11:12am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce today announced grants for nine research and development projects that will help Minnesota consumers and businesses save energy, cut utility bills and reduce carbon dioxide pollution. The grants, totaling $1,982,110, are funded by the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program and administered through the statewide Conservation Improvement Program. “Energy savings pay big dividends, helping Minnesota consumers and businesses save money, grow our economy and achieve our state’s energy and environmental goals,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “These innovative projects will help maximize energy efficiency in commercial buildings, farms, new construction and much more.” The CARD Grant Program was developed as part...
MN Dept. of Commerce
02/10/2016 - 10:04am
The number of solar jobs in Minnesota more than doubled during the past two years and, thanks to solar-friendly state and federal policies, the job surge is expected to continue, according to the 2015 Minnesota Solar Jobs Census from The Solar Foundation, Minnesota Department of Commerce, and BW Research Partnership. The Census, compiled by The Solar Foundation and funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, reports that Minnesota added 1,131 solar workers between 2013 and 2015, a 131 percent increase. Nearly 2,000 Minnesotans are currently employed statewide in solar-related jobs that include manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development and installation. Solar employers project a 20 percent increase in solar workers for Minnesota in 2016. “This is fantastic news for Minnesota, and...
02/09/2016 - 4:02pm
When Chuck Dougherty, owner of the Water Street Inn and Cover Park Manor in Stillwater, began researching solar panel installation, the high cost of the project made the upgrade seem unlikely. Then his preferred solar panel company recommended he apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. According to Dougherty, the Saint Paul Port Authority’s PACE program was quick and easy to understand. The team at Water Street Inn and Cover Park Manor are looking forward to increased energy savings and reducing their impact on the environment. In fact, Chuck has already recommended the program to other businesses and property owners. “We wanted to install solar panels on two properties in the Stillwater area,” said hotel owner Chuck Dougherty. “We would not have been able to...
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...