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Staying cool and saving energy this summer
Isaac Mielke
Tue, 07/14/2015 - 2:26pm
CERTs has compiled a handy list featuring ten ways that you can save money and energy this summer while staying cool. Use it like a checklist to mark off the things you’re already doing and find some new ways to help your energy bill chill out! [1] Turn off fans in empty rooms. It ends up fans cool people, not rooms! Learn more >> [2] Close window blinds and drapes when gone to block sunlight, but open windows at night to help cool and enjoy the extra daylight when home. Learn more >> [3] Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use or put them on power strips (and use them). Learn more...
Lighting display at the Eco Experience building
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 07/13/2015 - 5:55pm
Continuing the 8-year run as a primary exhibitor in the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources will again be overseeing nearly 4,000 square feet of exhibit space on energy use in Minnesota homes in partnership with other state agencies, utility companies, non-profits and businesses. Ranging from assessing the performance of existing homes to encouraging smart energy purchases (such as lighting, appliances, and mechanical equipment) to choosing advanced efficiency and renewable options when building new, this exhibit will help Minnesota residents make their homes more comfortable, durable, and efficient. Below are selected highlights from the exhibit… Home Assessments The first step in any home improvement project is to understand how things are currently...
Minnesota GreenStep Cities at the 2015 Awards Breakfast
Philipp Muessig
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:39pm
The League of Minnesota Cities recognized 26 member cities and one tribal community at an awards ceremony for completing one of three participation steps in the GreenStep Cities initiative. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program designed to help Minnesota cities achieve their environmental sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. There are now a total of 83 cities in Minnesota that have completed one or more participation steps since the program began in 2010. Each of the GreenStep Cities program’s 28 best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions in the areas of transportation, buildings and lighting, environmental management, land use, and economic and community development. The actions are tailored to all types of Minnesota cities, and they focus on cost savings, energy...
Summer Institute for Climate Change Education
Peter Lindstrom
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 2:00pm
The tables were turned for 70 educators who attended the Summer Institute for Climate Change Education this past June at Apple Valley’s School of Environmental Studies. For three days, these educators became students on all things sustainability-related. The event is organized by Climate Generation, formerly known as the Will Steger Foundation. Steger himself provided the opening address, inspiring the teachers with tails from his explorations and how those environments are seeing drastic changes. Peter Lindstrom, Local Government Outreach Coordinator for CERTs, addressed a breakout session on the third and final day. “Educators spent two days learning about the critical issues surrounding sustainability,” said Lindstrom. “I viewed my role as providing them...
New LED street light being installed in Detroit Lakes, MN
Joel Haskard
Wed, 07/01/2015 - 1:51pm
In 2014, the City of Detroit Lakes was looking at aesthetic and infrastructure upgrades to Washington Ave, including plans to retrofit the existing high pressure sodium (HPS) street lights to LEDs. “One of our goals was to create public awareness of LED lighting through this project and showcase our goal to retrofit all street lighting to LEDs,” said Josh Mason, energy services specialist with the city’s public utility. “Since Washington Ave is our main street, we wanted the project to be highly visible and much talked about in Detroit Lakes.” The project hit some bumps along the way when two separate rounds of bidding came in over budget. After the second round of bids were rejected, the city decided to replace six lights mounted on existing traffic signals in 2014. In summer of 2015, the city will complete the installation of the remaining street lights, which will be more...
Electric Vehicle Charging Available Here Sign
Joel Haskard
Mon, 06/15/2015 - 3:37pm
For public entities in Minnesota, a new statewide contract for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE or charging stations) is now in place. Vendor product and contact information is available on the Minnesota Department of Administration website. The purpose of this statewide contract is to relieve the burden of each entity having to perform a request for bid and award contract process. EVSE can still be purchased outside this contract through your own competitive bid and procurement processes. We spoke with Fran Crotty, Electric Vehicle State Program Administrator at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to learn a bit more. Joel Haskard: So if I am a city or county official interested in purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging station for my community, how would this work? Fran Crotty: Cities and counties can log into...
Alexis Troschinetz
Sun, 06/14/2015 - 3:23pm
Nonprofits anywhere in Minnesota can take advantage of 0% loans from Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) before the end of June. If you have a plan for an improvement primarily intended to reduce energy consumption just sitting on the shelf waiting for money to come along, then don’t miss out on this opportunity! Here are some other requirements to keep in mind: Maximum Loan: $25,000 Maximum Term: 5-7 years Existing building occupied in whole or in part by nonprofit Simple payback of 2-10 years and payback must be less than useful life The loan rate will increase to 3.9% after June. Make your project happen today—call Jim and tell him CERTs sent ya! Jim Hasnik Senior Loan Officer, NMLS #1000308 jhasnik@mncee.org 612-335-5885 or 1-855-296-5626 (LOAN)...
Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota
Fritz Ebinger
Mon, 06/08/2015 - 1:56pm
Farmers and rural small businesses are essential to the fabric of Minnesota—its economy, environment and communities. Helping them reduce costs with energy efficiency and take control of their energy expenses with renewable energy is the focus of a new program, Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota, launching this week with support from USDA Rural Development. There’s demand: “We’re seeing increased demand for information about renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements, and are excited to offer free project assistance to Minnesotans,” shared Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Program Manager with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and University of Minnesota Extension. Project support: For more than ten years, CERTs has been connecting Minnesotans with the resources they need to plan and implement energy efficiency and...
Revolt from Great River Energy
Joel Haskard
Thu, 06/04/2015 - 3:59pm
From now until December 31st, 2016, anyone who owns or leases a plug-in electric vehicle in Great River Energy’s service territory will be upgraded for free to 100% renewable wind energy. You can learn more about Revolt by visiting the program website and by reading a recent article from Midwest Energy News. You can also watch the video below featuring the program’s friendly ambassador, Eevie.   Get more on EVs Learn more about EVs, see upcoming events, and find more stories >>  
Map of community solar programs in Minnesota
Dan Thiede
Thu, 05/21/2015 - 4:04pm
Interest in community solar gardens has been exploding in recent months, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) has been busy keeping up with the demand for information and technical assistance. Minnesota has nearly two hundred utilities that can be categorized as investor-owned, cooperative, or municipal. To help people visualize where in Minnesota community solar garden programs are available, CERTs published a map that is publicly available at http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/solargardens#current. The map allows people to see which where each utility’s territory extends and which utilities are currently offering community solar programs. Electric Utility Service Areas layer is public and provided by MnGEO. You...
Minnesota GreenCorps Program
Dan Thiede
Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:55am
Minnesota GreenCorps is recruiting the next generation of environmental leaders… do you know someone who has what it takes? Minnesota GreenCorps helps communities across Minnesota prepare for a strong and resilient future by using environmental best practices that achieve results. GreenCorps members are matched with host organizations like cities, school districts, or nonprofits to work on a specific focus area. From September 2015- August 2016, members contribute 1700 hours of service and receive professional development, mentoring, a living stipend of $12,530 and an education award of $5,730. What’s life after GreenCorps like? 8 in 10 alumni report that Minnesota GreenCorps helped them get their desired jobs, and 9 in 10 alumni are employed or in school. Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control...
L to R: Laurel Johnston, Cavan Wagg, Patrick Huelman, Peter Schneider, and Collin Coltman
Sam Lounsbury
Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:43pm
The University of Minnesota won the grand prize at the Second Annual Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Competition. The winning group, team OptiMN, was made up of fourteen students from four different colleges that beat out 27 other colleges from the United States and Canada for the top prize. Four presenters, Collin Coltman, Laurel Johnston, Peter Schneider, and Cavan Wagg went to Golden, Colorado to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to present their Impact Home. The Impact Home, which has 3 bedrooms & 1.5 bathrooms, provides the homeowner with excellent thermal insulation and deliberate vapor control. The house would be outfitted with the best of energy efficient appliances and technology, including solar panels on the roof. Nothing is wasted with the...
B3 Awards
Peter Lindstrom
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...
Solar at Cozy Corners Campground | Photo copyright Jason Wachter, St. Cloud Times
Anthony D'Amico
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...
Made in Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate Program
Joel Haskard
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”...
The Gibbs family installed a 39,840-watt PV solar system on the south side of a livestock barn
Dan Thiede
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,...
Jake Jacobsen with his wind turbine
Alexis Troschinetz
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...
Minnesota GreenCorps Program
Dan Thiede
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...
CERTs staff getting silly at the conference
Dan Thiede
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....
Royalton YES! Team with their super mileage car
Brandi Kloss
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...

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