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04/06/2016 - 11:49pm
The Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) honors Steve Hansen, a brilliant educator who taught thousands of students in Wisconsin about the importance of renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and earth stewardship. The Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor his spirit and memory, and to help the next generation carry on his important work. It is designed to assist students who are interested in attending college, technical college, or other training courses to study renewable energy, energy efficiency, or sustainable living topics. Scholarships are awarded to students who reside in the Midwest (WI, MN, MI, IA, IL, IN, OH, MO). Students should possess a clear goal of desiring to make her or his community, environment, or world a better...
04/06/2016 - 12:30am
In Northeast Minnesota, CERTs leveraged McKnight Foundation funding to assist three highly-motivated Minnesota GreenStep Cities (Grand Marais, Mountain Iron, and Pine City) with advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy within their business and commercial sectors. “We wanted these city leaders to gain a greater awareness of existing energy efficiency programs, resources, and opportunities for their regional businesses,” stated CERTs co-director Joel Haskard. “Gathering these business-specific resources within the GreenStep Cities structure is hopefully going to increase local capacity to carry out this work in the future.” After an initial conference call with CERTs staff, the three cities worked with Michael Orange of Orange Environmental who created Commercial and Industrial Inventories for each city. From there, the cities worked one-...
04/05/2016 - 12:39am
UMD and Lake Superior College (LSC) were each recently awarded technical assistance grants to learn more about the feasibility and economic assessment of installing solar photovoltaics on their campuses. Photovoltaic systems generate electricity by converting sunlight into direct current electricity. In support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) offered no-cost technical assistance to universities seeking to “go solar.” The program was designed to increase deployment of mid-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at universities, engage stakeholders to develop deployment solutions, and empower decision makers. UMD and LSC will receive initial assessment of solar PV feasibility at their campuses, including cost-effectiveness of solar PV installations, recommended system sizes, estimated capital costs to implement solar...
03/30/2016 - 1:52pm
How much energy could you save just by giving business owners a face-to-face reminder of the available rebates from their local utility? CERTs and the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) decided to find out. The Plan: Over the course of 19 months, CERTs staff visited 15 of SMMPA’s 18 member municipal utilities to increase awareness about their rebate programs. CERTs went door to door across the communities speaking with the local businesses and provided each business with a letter of introduction from the SMMPA Energy Service Representatives (ESR), a letter opener that included the ESR’s contact information, a list of current rebates, a CERTs Right Light Guide customized for the utility, and a sign up form to receive information from the local utility via email. An effective partnership: “We started with five communities during 2014, and...
Dept. of Commerce
03/30/2016 - 11:33am
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...
03/25/2016 - 7:18am
Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux and the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission (PUC) installed Grand Marais’s first solar electric system recently. Owners of Art House Bed and Breakfast, Arrowsmith DeCoux and his family—wife Rose and son Ennis—are very involved in the community and they view the installation as a community statement (and basically the right thing to do). This blog post is a blend of an article about the installation in the Cook County News Herald and a...
03/24/2016 - 4:57pm
Interest in solar energy is rapidly expanding in Minnesota, and many homeowners are looking for good ways to pay for solar installations. Traditional financing options are not always a great fit for renewable energy systems, but a Minnesota organization has a new solar-specific program. We spoke with Lending Manager Jim Hasnik to learn more about Center for Energy and Environment Lending Center’s new Solar Loan. Tell us a little bit about your Solar Financing program. Jim Hasnik: We’re excited to provide a new Residential Solar PV Loan Program for Minnesota residents. The Solar Loan from the CEE Lending Center is a financing resource specifically designed for residential solar implementation. We worked closely with local solar providers to create a program that helps homeowners bridge the gaps between up...
Sarah Hayden Shaw
03/24/2016 - 1:04pm
With trains rumbling down the tracks nearby, 25 people gathered at The Depot in Wadena March 15th to learn about clean energy projects gaining steam in communities across the region. Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden kicked things off by updating folks about recently funded Seed Grants and upcoming Solar Power Hours. Two speakers then gave lightning talks: Josh Mason with Detroit Lakes Public Utilities talked about their work on a new Community Solar Garden and Ryan Pesch with University of Minnesota Extension talked about saving energy with Deep Winter Greenhouses. The rest of the day was focused on topics and themes that came up during conversation: community solar gardens, solar in general, energy...
03/24/2016 - 12:52pm
Over 30 people gathered at the Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center in Rochester on Wednesday, March 2nd, to network and set priorities around local clean energy projects. The two and a half hour event started off with Andy Krogstad, the Managing Director of the Mayo Civic Center, talking about his experiences using the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program as a way to finance energy efficiency upgrades. He was followed by Jeff Beckman, President of AgInspire about the Renewable Energy Education Kits. AgInspire received CERTs seed grants in three regions with the understanding that their kits—a collection focused on wind, solar, biomass/fuel, and general energy concepts—will be highlighted at county fairs during the summer of 2016. Taylor Gronau, City Administrator with Lake Crystal, was not able to attend the event to present on...
03/18/2016 - 8:42am
On Tuesday, March 8th, over 40 people gathered in Sunburg, MN (pop. 100) at their Community Center to participate in the West Central CERT Energy Networking & Priority Setting event. After lunch and networking, the attendees heard a presentation from David Krueger, Executive Director, Meeker County Economic Development Agency, about the role that Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) can play for economic development and clean energy implementation. Next, Shelli-Kae Foster, Program Manager with the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) was joined by Samantha Gilbert and Mia Dahl, students from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s YES! Team. They highlighted the program in general and the projects that the student leaders are currently working on (hint: LED parking lot lights with solar panels…...