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Tue, 05/12/2015 - 4:11pm
During the CERTs 2015 Conference workshop on Accomplishing GreenStep Cities Energy Best Practices in March, The Weidt Group gave out awards to Minnesota GreenStep Cities to recognize them for their energy benchmarking efforts with “B3 Benchmarking” and more. Measurement is important: There’s a saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and it rings true when cities, counties, and schools are thinking about ways to save energy. Benchmarking is a highly practical way to measure energy use in your buildings and is the first step in managing energy costs. What is B3 Benchmarking and how does it work? B3, which stands for Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond, is a robust online tool for...
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:29am
When Cozy Corners Campground in Richmond, Minnesota is at maximum capacity during the busy summer months, the facility’s electric bill can top $10,000 a month. Driven by a desire to make a positive environmental impact as well as reduce these astronomical bills, owners George and Kathy Meyers decided to install solar panels at the campground. The panels are expected to generate approximately 15% of the campground’s electricity. This is the first project in Stearns County to utilize the assistance of Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE through the Saint Paul Port Authority’s program. PACE is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid...
Fri, 03/27/2015 - 1:44pm
More Minnesotans will have access to affordable solar thermal systems after the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced that it will offer rebates beginning March 18 to residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. “Moving to solar thermal can help smooth spikes in heating costs by using renewable energy as a complement to current heating sources, whether it’s propane, natural gas, wood or electricity,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The rebates will now help make installing solar heating a more affordable option for Minnesota businesses and residents.” The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota”...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:26pm
This article is republished from the original by Andrea Johnson, Assistant Editor of Farm and Ranch Guide. It’s time to consider solar power again. Better technology and lower prices are making solar power in 2014 achievable and more affordable than in the past. Two types of solar power are available – thermal collectors heat air and water; photovoltaic (photo – light and voltaic – electrical potential) systems convert light to electricity. “We’re really past innovators and early adopters with solar and looking at the ‘early majority’ now. The cost of solar has come down a lot, and all sorts of people are now installing solar energy projects,” said Dan Thiede, Clean Energy Resource Team communications manager,...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:06pm
Zoom around the Upper-Midwest (and linger a while in Minnesota!) to see excellent on-farm renewable energy projects. The potential uses and benefits of renewable energy to rural communities are huge. In fact, they’re already being realized as innovative people and organizations put ideas into action. This is a project of the Center for Rural Affairs in partnership with Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), The Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Clean Wisconsin. Click here to take the tour >> Take action: If you’re a farm or rural small business interested in energy saving solutions and renewable energy, you should consider USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:42pm
Looking for support to advance your energy and environment projects? Minnesota GreenCorps members are a great way to add capacity to your organization and grow young leaders. About the Program: Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA, which places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. MPCA is planning to place up to 40 full-time members with various host sites for the 2015-2016 program year. Members serve approximately 40 hours a week for 11 months beginning in mid to late September 2015 through August 2016. Program Eligibility Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501...
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 4:10pm
On March 10-11, 550 Minnesotans from all over the state gathered in St. Cloud for the CERTs 2015 Conference to learn about successful energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, connect with peers, and get ready to take action in their communities. It was a great turnout, and it reflected the great excitement around the expansion of solar and other clean energy projects around the state, as well as the broad implementation of innovative energy efficiency projects. You can learn more about the event, download speaker presentations, and see photos from the conference at http://2015.mncerts.org. Or just scroll down to see photos and more! Stories about the event were featured in the St....
Mon, 03/23/2015 - 4:21pm
The Youth Energy Summit (YES!) empowers youth to partner with their community to create economic and environmental vitality through hands-on learning and team-based projects. CERTs has supported teams throughout the years with seed grants and technical assistance, and recently West Central Regional Coordinator Erin Smith and statewide Co-Director Joel Haskard met with school teams at their event at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. At the event Joel and Erin caught up with me (Royalton High School sophomore Brandi Kloss—I’m in the middle on the photo above) so I could share a little bit about our YES! team and our projects. Below is the interview! CERTs: What did your team do last year? Brandi Kloss: One of our projects was Royalton designed and built a super mileage car – winning the Minnesota...
Turkey farmers learn about solar air heating and LED lighting technologies for effective, efficient barns
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Thu, 01/29/2015 - 4:51pm
Nearly 40 people, including several local turkey farmers from central Minnesota, gathered at Lake Region Electric Cooperative in Pelican Rapids on December 3rd to learn about LED lighting options, funding options, and solar air heating technologies. The event, dubbed “Toasty Turkeys” was a big success. Forefront technology for making turkeys toasty Jason Edens of Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) first shared the basics on how solar transpired air works. This relatively low-cost technology can raise fresh air 20 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit over the outdoor temperature. These systems have low maintenance and can last 30 years or more. RREAL partnered with a local turkey farmer to demonstrate this technology on an active barn. The results have been very promising so far....
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 01/28/2015 - 1:18pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on January 21, 2015 that two new companies have met the qualifications to have their photovoltaic (PV) modules certified as Made in Minnesota. Heliene and itek Energy join tenKsolar and Silicon Energy as solar manufacturers in Minnesota who make solar modules that qualify for the Made in Minnesota PV Production-Based Incentive Program. As a result, incentive amounts have been set by Commerce for both itek Energy and Heliene PV modules produced in Minnesota. Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program Incentives for solar PV are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Owners of an approved and installed PV system...
Tue, 01/27/2015 - 4:28pm
In a time when resources are tight, some companies in Minnesota have successfully lessened their expenses by increasing efficiencies and reducing waste and energy use. What’s more: these businesses were able to complete a number of projects without allocating current staff resources by hosting a MnTAP intern. The intern program helps businesses address pressing efficiency and waste concerns while also saving money. There are upcoming deadlines for both companies and interns—see more details below. Each summer, highly qualified interns lead projects at businesses in Minnesota that range from identifying opportunities to reduce waste, conserve water, to investigating process energy efficiency opportunities. Interns are chosen based upon their outstanding educational background as well as their leadership abilities. Participating companies appreciate the opportunity to work with a...
Mon, 01/12/2015 - 4:03pm
This interview was originally posted on Midwest Energy News. For two years, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has been showcasing a new approach to financing state and municipal sustainability projects around the state. Called the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), the concept offers organizations a way to reduce energy costs and use the savings to help pay for projects. The state created documents to help agencies and municipalities manage the program, which involves an “Energy Services Company” that develops, installs, and provides financial assistance for the projects. It’s not an easy concept to explain even to large agencies,...
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Thu, 01/08/2015 - 5:02pm
In an age of disappearing small and medium size farms, Doug and Jane Popp are making their medium-sized dairy and crop operation near Royalton, MN work. After talking with them for a while, it becomes clear how. They have a passion for farming and the way of life it offers, and a keen eye for the bottom line—which includes a farmer’s frugality, as well as a creativity and willingness to seize good opportunities. Top on the list of these seized opportunities? The Popps put the wind, the sun, and energy efficient technologies to work for them! Solar on Popp Farm It all started in 2010, when a family member who was taking a course in renewable energy systems asked if he could use their farm to complete a solar assessment for a school assignment. Once they started looking, they realized they had a perfect spot up on the hill, just south of the wind turbine;...
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Thu, 01/08/2015 - 10:34am
I heard a question recently about LED traffic signals and wanted to craft a response. Check out the question and answer below, then learn more about a Minnesota community’s experience. Question: I’ve heard LED traffic signal lights can present a problem in the northern climates. The concern is that the efficient LEDs, which put off very little heat, will need to have snow and ice removal maintenance, because the waste heat that previously melted the snow/ice is no longer there. Is this true? Answer: To find an answer to this question, I started by asking Andrea Lauer, mayor of Royalton, MN about her experience. Sarah: Your LED signals have been up for a few years now, has your city experienced any problems with this? If so, how do you address it? Andrea: We discussed the issue of possible snow/ice build up on LED lights before making the switch. We felt that if we had a...
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Thu, 01/08/2015 - 8:03am
Nearly two dozen city officials and engaged community members gathered in Little Falls on December 11, 2014 to receive hands-on training on how to drive sustainability in their area through the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 28 best practices. Each best practice is comprised of actions. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation. The program has expanded rapidly since its inception in 2010 with 75 cities currently engaged. Speakers at the event hailed from three Minnesota cities. Royalton: Participants heard from Andrea Lauer, mayor of...
Wed, 01/07/2015 - 4:28pm
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from USDA Rural Development is a great opportunity for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses to save energy with efficiency work and add renewable energy systems. Grants can cover up to 25% of eligible project costs, and loans can cover up to 75% of eligible project costs. The funding has just been opened for 2015, and there is twice as much money available as usual (which may mean you have an even better chance of being funded). There is also a shorter application that can be completed without the help of a grant writer for smaller projects. See details below! What is REAP all about, and how can I learn more? The Basics: This year there will be two application windows for the renewable energy or energy efficiency grants: April 30 and June 30 Projects requesting grants of $20,000 ($80,000 total project cost) or...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 4:38pm
Applications for the second year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted beginning January 1 and ending February 28, 2015. The program, entering its second year, helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses, and communities. The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Program’s first year boosts state’s solar capacity In 2014, the first year of the Made in Minnesota program, funding was awarded for 343 solar electric (or photovoltaic [PV]) projects and 20 solar thermal installations. The PV projects equal about 5.1 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity—equal to more than one-third of the state’s total solar capacity of 14 MW when the program began January 1, 2014. Over 10 years, the program is expected to help fund 4,000 solar installations and increase...
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 1:54pm
It’s cold again (really cold), which means we’re all looking for ways to save on energy costs. From the high-tech to the practical, here are some ways to make this winter an energy-saving (and money-saving) opportunity! Follow these tips and enjoy low energy costs from the warmth of your home: Install weather-stripping, caulk leaky doors, and seal your home. If you’re able, adding insulation to your walls and attic is another key way to keep that precious heated air from escaping. Turn down the heat! Lower your thermostat before leaving the house for extended periods. Using a programmable thermostat is a great way to effortlessly adjust the temperature based on your schedule. Change the filter on your furnace once a month so your furnace can breathe easy...
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 1:19pm
As you’re taking down the holiday lights in the coming weeks, you now have the option to recycle any that didn’t make it and avoid having to deal with a tangled mess of lights next season! The Recycling Association of Minnesota, ACE hardware stores, WCCO TV, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are once again working together to provide the Recycle Your Holidays program to Minnesotans. RYH is the only holiday light recycling program of its kind in the country. Who is involved? RAM provides the collection bins and collection services for ACE store customers and other businesses and organizations across Minnesota to recycle holiday lights during the holiday season. CERTs provides the map of these nearly 500 drop-off locations. Vocational centers and their clients are contracted by RAM to provide the pick-up service and sort the thousands of pounds of holiday...
Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:35pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) have been receiving questions from across Minnesota about Community Solar Gardens. During many of these conversations it became clear that communities needed resources they could use to help subscribers understand how community solar works and what they needed to know. To meet these needs, CERTs and our partners have compiled a suite of resources open for use by individuals, communities, and solar companies alike to help everyone make well-informed decisions regarding Community Solar Garden projects. CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens The CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens provides an introduction to key concepts and definitions. It was created to illustrate how community solar gardens work, why people might be interested in subscribing, how...