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02/03/2016 - 10:22am
What is REEGP? The Renewable Energy Equipment Grant program (REEGP), provides Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) providers grant funding to install renewable energy equipment in low-income households. The statute that appropriates these funds specifically calls for the installation of renewable energy equipment in households; however, historically, the state provided funds to help make heating systems more efficient (the first program retrofitted oil burning furnaces). In keeping with the original intent, REEGP was designed to provide supplemental heat through the installation of renewable energy technologies in eligible households under Minnesota’s WAP. Initially, solar air heating and high efficiency wood boilers were approved by REEGP as a direct source of supplemental heat. As solar photovoltaic and direct solar photovoltaic-thermal technology costs have...
02/03/2016 - 9:34am
The City of Richfield has identified energy efficiency as an important way that homeowners can reduce residential utility bills, improve household maintenance and safety, and protect the environment by reducing pollution emitted from energy production. The City of Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority (RHRA) took advantage of a Metro CERT Seed Grant to increase participation in a home energy savings program by identifying and addressing barriers to participation within Richfield’s growing Latino community. A population that has nearly tripled since 2000, Latino households in Richfield now make up 18% of the population (according to the 2010 census). Before this project, participation by Latino residents in city-sponsored housing programs remained low. In order to implement such a project, a strategic partnership was necessary. In the winter of 2014...
02/02/2016 - 5:06pm
SciTechsperience connects college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines with paid internships that provide rewarding hands-on experience in small to mid-sized Minnesota businesses. Objectives: Develop Minnesota’s STEM workforce by providing hands-on learning opportunities to talented college students in dynamic Minnesota STEM industries. Keep talented STEM students in Minnesota after they graduate in order to strengthen and advance Minnesota’s knowledge-based economy. Benefits: Businesses receive a dollar-for-dollar cash match for up to 50% of the intern’s wages ($2,500 max), providing a low-cost solution for small and medium-sized companies that otherwise would not have access to qualified interns. Enables employers to find future employees, increase productivity and revitalize...
02/02/2016 - 2:05pm
We recently spoke with Dan Husted, Vice President of Energy Services with Lake Region Electric Cooperative, about an innovative program they have created to provide quality LED light bulbs to their membership. It’s called EASY-PAY LED Lighting, and you can read on to learn more! What made you decide to distribute LEDs to your membership in this way? Dan Husted, LREC: It’s just a small program but it’s provided us with an opportunity to innovate. As an electric co-op utility, we encourage energy efficiency and we offer rebates for certain energy efficient products, like LED’s. Our goal is to keep electricity bills affordable for our members and our rebate programs also help us meet our state’s CIP energy conservation goals. Our online store provides Lake Region members an...
02/01/2016 - 2:46pm
After years of collaboration on other important issues, neighbors are now coming together to focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. In 2008, citizens of St. Anthony Park gathered at Micawber’s Books to discuss Pat Murphy’s Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change. Murphy reveals that 60% of energy consumption results from food, housing, and transportation. To spread word of this new priority, key members formed an organizing committee, talked with friends, wrote commentaries in the Park Bugle, hosted educational events, and worked with the community council. 2013 proved to be the decisive year. The organizing committee, which has ballooned to 18 members and meets monthly, established eight autonomous action groups: Getting Started, Reflective Circle, Sustainable Food and Land, Community Solar, Land Use Efficiency, Home Energy Curtailment, Zero...
MN Dept. of Commerce
02/01/2016 - 1:33pm
Taxpayers take note: If you made energy efficiency improvements to your home in 2015, or if you are planning upgrades in 2016, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $500. The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit originally expired at the end of 2014. But Congress recently renewed the credit, making it retroactive to January 1, 2015, and extending it to December 31, 2016. As a result, any qualified equipment installed in 2015 or 2016 is eligible for the credit. It applies to energy efficiency improvements to weatherize existing homes as well as the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment. The maximum tax credit for all improvements made from 2011-2016 is $500. A taxpayer who has already claimed the full tax credit cannot apply for an additional credit. A few examples of what may qualify for the tax credit: Insulation...
01/28/2016 - 3:35pm
Environmental Initiative is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Environmental Initiative Awards. This program annually honors projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership. Nominations for collaborative environmental projects will be accepted until Friday, February 19 in these six categories: Community Action Energy and Climate Environmental Education Food Stewardship Natural Resources Sustainable Business Finalists will be announced in March and winners will be revealed during an “Academy Award Style” ceremony on Thursday, May 26 at Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis. Nominate a project! ...
01/27/2016 - 6:10pm
When building a new home all sorts of little details need to be decided: What color the walls will be, what the cabinets will look like, etc. Often the mechanical part of the home is given less attention. Options that cost more are easy to push off for something familiar and cheaper. Ground-source heating and cooling (often called geothermal in Minnesota) often gets set aside with its initial higher cost tag. This might be a big mistake. If geothermal is examined a little more closely one realizes that it is extremely efficient and that there is a 30% Federal Tax Credit through the end of 2016, and often utility rebates that can be combined to significantly lower the initial costs. Jim Poppen—a home owner in Hampton, MN—was able to do just that. The original costs to install the geothermal...
01/15/2016 - 8:45am
This article was originally published in Midwest Energy News by Frank Jossi. Less than a week after a Minnesota co-op announced it had sold out shares of its formerly struggling solar garden, solar developer Sunshare announced it has sold out its first project in Waverly, a town 35 miles west of Minneapolis. The Sunshare Waverly project has five co-located solar gardens, each of which has a capacity of one megawatt (MW). Under Minnesota state law, solar gardens are limited to 1 MW each, and regulators last year imposed a...
01/14/2016 - 10:54am
CERTs is pleased to announce that Kristi Fernholz, a Senior Planner at the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC), will also be acting as our new West Central CERT Coordinator. Kristi has worked at UMVRDC on a variety of programs since 2000. She has worked on a variety of projects assisting local units of government in her region, including grants management, grant writing, comprehensive planning, tourism development and coordination of a number of programs. Kristi’s work on renewable energy initiatives such as the Upper Sioux Community Energy Plan (2012) and the Swift County Blue Ribbon Commission document (2007) prepared her to sit on the West Central CERT steering committee the past few years. She’ll be stepping off the steering committee this month with her new role as the coordinator. Kristi Fernholz lives on an organic farm in rural Appleton with her...