05/06/2014 - 10:00am
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems.
“Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Landkamer said. “This funding will help rural small business owners, farmers and ranchers incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent. When small rural businesses and farmers cut their energy costs with cleaner and more efficient energy, we are both helping their bottom lines and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.”
The funding announced today is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program...
05/05/2014 - 4:12pm
Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church has announced that it will be the first community of faith in Minnesota to host a community solar garden. The Church has partnered with solar developer Minnesota Community Solar to host the project atop the education wing on Bethel’s south Minneapolis property. The Church will be the array’s anchor subscriber, consuming a significant portion of the electricity produced.
Community solar gardens allow Xcel Energy customers to subscribe to solar energy from large arrays at locations away from their own homes and businesses. Community solar dramatically expands the number of Minnesotans with access to clean, locally-produced solar electricity.
Describing the partnership, Pastor Brenda Froisland said, “We are very excited to be partnering with Minnesota Community Solar; they’ve made this process easy. Our congregation has long had a spiritual...
05/01/2014 - 4:01pm
Are you looking for a financing tool that helps for-profit businesses do energy efficiency retrofits on their property? Property Assessed Clean Energy, (or PACE for short) have the answers you’re looking for! PACE allows property owners to borrow money from newly established municipal financing districts to finance energy retrofits (energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades) and repay the loan through an annual special tax on their property bill. The premise of the program is that the business does not see a decrease in net profits—and once the loan is repaid, the business realizes the savings on their operating costs. Find the answers you’re looking for, including program objectives and requirements Property Assessed Clean Energy brochure about PACE.
05/01/2014 - 2:19pm
Minnesota Cities at the League of Minnesota Cities recently had a discussion with Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities program coordinator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to learn more about the initiative. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program cities can join to help them improve their Earth-friendly efforts in a cost-effective way.
Minnesota Cities: How did the idea for the GreenStep Cities program come about, and when did the program take off?
Philipp Muessig: Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) held regional listening sessions around the state in 2007 to discuss community-based energy opportunities and the state’s Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The idea was raised by Bob McLean of Hunt Utilities Group in Pine River to create a sustainable cities program that would, like...
04/25/2014 - 11:53am
Lakeville, MN’s Dragonfly Solar and SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer since 1975, will partner to deliver a 517-kilowatt solar array to four electric utility cooperatives in the U.S. Midwest. The project is the nation’s first and largest to be developed under a model of joint ownership among utility cooperatives, exemplifying how cooperatives can maximize their clean-power investment.
The solar array will be owned and managed by Minnesota-Three, an entity jointly owned by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services of Albert Lea, Minn., People’s Energy Cooperative of Oronoco, Minn., and Tri-County Cooperative of Rushford, Minn. — all utility cooperatives whose member-owners have joined forces to curb energy costs. Dairyland Power of La Crosse, Wis., the cooperative power...
04/24/2014 - 2:13pm
Both homeowners and renters can benefit from home improvements that promote energy efficiency and improve indoor air quality. Raising the bar on air quality and energy performance at home helps reduce heating and cooling costs, saves energy, and improves occupant health and comfort.
To help consumers better understand the strategies and product options available to them, HUD’s (Housing and Urban Development) Office of Policy Development and Research has developed the Guide to Energy-Efficient and Healthy Homes. The Guide is a new section of their website that provides concise descriptions in an easy-to-navigate format.
Adopting energy-efficiency measures can also reduce both a home’s carbon footprint and the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. This guide...
04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
The Hometown BioEnergy anaerobic digester on the south edge of LeSueur, Minn., is the largest system of its type in the U.S., rated at 8 MW of electrical power from food processing and agricultural waste. Kelsey Dillon’s description of the construction schedule at Hometown BioEnergy LLC as “aggressive” is an understatement.
The project broke ground in December 2012, in the midst of a Minnesota winter, and was completed one year later, in the middle of a very cold December. “We had a very aggressive construction schedule. We had to work long hours and weekend schedules to get it done,” the vice president of bioenergy for Avant Energy Inc. explains. “We pushed hard because we qualified for a 1603 grant [under the Recovery Act] and we had to be complete by the end of this year.” The grant isn’t finalized yet, she adds, but the developers hope to receive between $8 million and $9 million...
04/23/2014 - 10:25am
Over 40 people gathered at WoodMaster / Northwest Manufacturing in Red Lake Falls Wednesday, April 16th to learn about biomass opportunities in the region and across Minnesota at an event organized by Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team (NW CERT).
“Biomass is a win-win-win-win: It is good for the economy, consumers, education and the environment,” said Tim Lutz, superintendent of Kelliher Public Schools. “It’s going to take vision and perseverance to make it happen.”
After noting that energy efficiency is the first step in developing a project, presenters spoke about the opportunities that biomass projects have for growing manufacturing jobs, using local and sustainable fuel sources, supporting the forest economies of rural communities and reducing the risk of wildfires...
04/18/2014 - 2:17pm
In support of the country’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the Energy Department announced yesterday $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses.
The United States continues to be a global leader in solar, with total U.S. solar energy installations reaching 13 gigawatts last year. As the cost of solar energy continues to decline, more states and local communities are deploying solar energy projects to meet their electricity needs.
“As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz...
04/16/2014 - 4:02pm
The hometown of SPAM is getting serious about saving energy. Local government leaders from the City of Austin and Mower County came together Tuesday to talk about ways to reduce overall operations and maintenance budgets, reduce energy use, and install upgrades in public buildings with the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP).
Southeast CERT hosted a Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) forum at the Jay C Hormel Nature Center in Austin Tuesday, April 15th. Community leaders came to hear a 30 minute presentation about GESP and on how to get started with the program. Then Peter Berger, GESP Program Manager from the Department of Commerce, joined the meeting via webinar to answer technical questions for an additional 30 minutes.
The Guaranteed Energy Savings Program or GESP is a state administered program to provide technical assistance on energy savings performance...