Sarah Hayden Shaw
07/13/2014 - 10:20am
Morrison County has given a green light to a plan to build a solar farm east of Little Falls. The 10-megawatt project is one of several large-scale solar farms expected to be built in Central Minnesota in the next few years.
Geronimo Energy is the company behind the Morrison County project, which will operate under the subsidiary Lindy Solar. The solar farm encompasses 70 acres near Minnesota Highway 27 in Little Falls Township.
Geronimo is the same company behind a distributed solar project chosen by state regulators last year in a competitive bidding process to provide electricity for Xcel Energy. The 100-megawatt Aurora Solar Project includes about 24 solar farms around the state, with three in Stearns County and one in Benton County.
The Morrison County solar farm isn’t part of the Aurora project, said Nathan Franzen, director of solar for Geronimo. The company is...
07/10/2014 - 11:23am
We often receive questions from homeowners about how to get started with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Recently a gentleman named Jim in Corcoran, MN reached out to us with a question on this topic, and we decided to share the answer with everyone in the hopes that it will help you, too.
I am a homeowner in Corcoran (Hennepin County). My family and I are very interested in learning more about energy alternatives for heating and cooling our residence. Last winter, we, like many others, took a big financial hit with the cost of propane; we’d like to reduce — or eliminate — our dependence on it. We are especially interested in a system that would include the integration of solar and geothermal. (And anything else you may suggest.) Can someone come out to our home and assess our energy needs, then make some recommendations to us?...
07/09/2014 - 1:52pm
An LED street lighting forum was hosted at the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference on June 19th, where a packed room of 40 people learned first-hand from a tremendously knowledgeable line-up of speakers from across Minnesota.
Is your city in the dark about LED street lighting retrofits? Learn how the technology works, as well as the benefits to your city’s operational budget. See presentations below from city representatives about their experiences and lessons learned, and get tips for picking the right kind of light and selecting a lighting contractor for your project.
Presentation – LED street lighting: What it is and how it has worked for us
Blake Redfield, City of St. Cloud
07/09/2014 - 12:30pm
With an acronym that sounded like Roadrunner passing Wile E. Coyote, the Public Building Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program (PBEEEP) contract between the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Center for Energy & Environment (CEE) wrapped up in February 2014. Seventy different sites managed by ten different state agencies participated, with over 900 buildings totaling 31,423,848 square feet. Of those participants, PBEEEP identified over 650 energy savings measures and saw a combined reduction of 6.3% in the participating buildings’ baseline energy use since 2010, which translated into a cost savings of $1.4 million annually.
We spoke with Bridget Nielsen McLaughlin, CEE’s Manager of Client & Government Affairs, to learn more.
Joel Haskard: Tell us a little bit about CEE and how you ended up managing the State PBEEEP program?
Bridget Nielsen McLaughlin: CEE is in its...
07/09/2014 - 10:53am
Plans are underway to expand the solar farm built in 2009 that provides some of the electricity used on the St. John’s campus. Best Power International received a grant from Xcel Energy’s renewable development fund to install solar panels to produce another 200 kilowatts at St. John’s.
While the existing solar panels track the sun as it moves across the sky, the new system will have fixed panels, said Dwight Jelle, president of Best Power. That will allow researchers to compare the two systems and see which performs better, he said. The existing solar farm has been producing more power than anticipated, Jelle said. He said the company hopes to build the new system this fall or 2015 at the latest.
In related news, after more than half a century of heating with coal, St. John’s University has made the switch to natural gas. After undergoing a master planning...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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-...