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Minnesota Department of Commerce
MN Dept. of Commerce
06/25/2016 - 2:26pm
Affordable solar thermal systems are now within reach for more Minnesota homes and businesses. The Commerce Department announced that it will offer rebate opportunities beginning March 30, 2016 to all residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. Applications will be reviewed and funded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds have been fully reserved. Minnesota families may save up to $2,500, while businesses may save up to $25,000. “Solar thermal technology can take some of the unpredictability out of heating costs by adding renewable energy as a complement to current heating sources,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The rebates will now help make installing solar heating a more affordable option for Minnesota businesses and residents.” The state’s solar incentive program, signed in to law by...
CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy multi-family energy efficiency program
Joel Haskard
06/22/2016 - 12:34pm
CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have joined forces to offer an incentive-based Multi-Family Building Efficiency program in Minnesota. Until now, the two utilities have not had a program that jointly addresses energy challenges in multi-family properties.   About program   An Energy Programs Consortium study estimated that 85 percent of multi-family units were built before 1990, showing there is room for substantial savings—anywhere from 30 to 75 percent—as a result of energy-efficiency improvements.* Multi-family building owners aiming to cut energy costs may be focusing on improvements to common areas—entrances, lobbies, etc. With so many opportunities throughout the whole building including resident units, CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have introduced the...
Bill Mittlefehldt, former NE CERT Coordinator
Lissa Pawlisch
06/22/2016 - 12:17pm
Over the past eight years CERTs staff have had the honor of working with Bill Mittlefehldt as our Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT) Coordinator. Bill has been instrumental to increasing our network across the Northeast region, in advancing the GreenStep Cities program, in supporting community energy efforts throughout the region, and in cultivating the next generation of clean energy champions. When Bill was first hired his primary task was to build CERTs’ community connections to reach across the entire Northeast CERT region. He took this challenge seriously and began in earnest building relationships with over 50 clean energy partners from Ely and International Falls to Pine City and Barnum. Bill has never been afraid to reach out to someone new or to simply stop in somewhere to make a new connection...
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...

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Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission