Thu, 03/20/2014 - 11:34am
The Solar Powering Minnesota conference held March 7, 2014 at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul was a huge success. The sold-out event brought together more than 350 people—utilities, policy makers, lenders, developers & contractors, local governments, and training & workforce development professionals—to talk about 2013 legislative outcomes, financing, incentives, utility programs, permitting, storage, and community solar gardens, and much more. We’re pleased to share presentations and a ton of great photos from the event!
Click here to download presentations >>
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 10:10am
A decision this week by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission soon could change the way Minnesotans get credited for the solar energy they produce.
The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt a Minnesota Department of Commerce-developed method of calculating the value of solar energy. The method soon could be used by public utilities, such as Xcel Energy, to determine a value-of-solar tariff — a new rate that would be used to credit its solar-energy-producing customers.
The new methodology is expected to be formalized by April 1 with a written decision by the commission. No other state in the country has a formal methodology for determining the value of solar energy.
“I am very pleased the Public Utilities Commission approved our department’s Value of Solar Methodology, making Minnesota the first state in the nation to take this big step forward —...
Wed, 03/19/2014 - 4:26pm
Tesla Motors is building a SuperCharging network that enables long distance driving with an all-electric Tesla Model S. This week the project reached an important milestone-there are now enough stations in place to allow all-American road trips from coast to coast by using these stations to charge your car along the way.
To celebrate this milestone, three members of the Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners’ Circle are going to drive from the Twin Cities to Los Angeles and then along the coast to San Francisco, culminating in a visit to the Tesla Motors factory in Freemont, CA. Lee Bakewell, Jukka Kukkonen and Pavel Zhuravlev left the Twin Cities on Monday February 3rd to head to the open road. It turned out that the weather stayed bitterly cold for the first part of the trip putting the Tesla Model S and the crew to a real test.
We started to plan for this trip in the...
Tue, 03/18/2014 - 4:40pm
The State of Minnesota B3 Energy Benchmarking program has been developed by the State of Minnesota Department of Administration and Department of Commerce to help State and local governments improve the energy performance of their buildings by tracking and managing facility energy consumption. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
B3 Success – Energy Reductions on Campuses
Looking for benchmarking inspiration?
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, MNSCU for short, has been dedicated to using B3 Benchmarking for the past 5 years. The system, made up of 54 campuses whose 939 buildings make up a third of Minnesota state building space, uses B3 Benchmarking to prioritize building improvements:
When 20 campuses used the ARRA funds to undertake energy audits and recommissioning of their systems, they used B3 in identifying buildings to...
Tue, 03/18/2014 - 4:06pm
The West Central Clean Energy Resource Team (WC CERT) and The Minnesota Project presented an educational program on how to pursue funding to support an LED lighting retrofit project on Thursday, March 13, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Life Center Auditorium of MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.
Overview: Attendees learned about LED lighting for turkey barns, heard candid farmer feedback on this type of retrofit, and learned about utility and federal funding options to help finance LED lighting retrofits in turkey barns. We owe a special thanks to our guest speakers from Kandiyohi Power Cooperative, USDA Rural Development, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation District.
Who attended? Out of the 60 folks who attended the event, a third were poultry farmers and the remainder included utility representatives, lighting specialists, electricians and other energy service...
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 6:37pm
The Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) from USDA Rural Development is a funding opportunity for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for farmers and rural small businesses.
We recently held a webinar to walk participants through the 2014 USDA Rural Development REAP funding cycle and example project ideas. The webinar recording and PowerPoint slides are available here for you to review.
In the webinar:
Ron Omann, the State Energy & Environmental Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development reviews key changes to REAP, eligibility to seek funds, filling out the application, and how projects are scored.
Download slides >>
Fritz Ebinger, the Energy Program Manager of The Minnesota Project, a partner of...
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 3:21pm
Center for Energy and Environment in conjunction with partner Neighborhood Energy Connection, excitedly announced the publication of a report that outlines a new approach to incorporate the value of energy-efficiency in homes at time-of-sale. The program, called “Energy Fit Homes,” will be launching in April, in conjunction with the Neighborhood Energy Connection. CEE is optimistic about its long-term potential to help transform the market for residential energy efficiency in Minnesota and will provide a third-party issued certificate for homes that reach a basic level of energy efficiency.
This certification program is designed to increase the overall efficiency of Minnesota’s existing housing stock by providing recognition and value to homeowners who conduct energy-efficient upgrades. Energy Fit Homes focuses on practical, cost-effective energy efficiency measures that allow a...
Sat, 03/15/2014 - 1:33pm
As the 2013 Nonprofit Mission Award winner in Innovation, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) has transformed the way low-income families obtain heat resources in a way that creates self-reliance and independence. RREAL’s Solar Assistance program is a nationally unique strategy that brings an innovative and sustainable solution to the pervasive societal challenge of fuel poverty. Fuel poverty exists when members of a household cannot afford to heat their home adequately and have to choose between heating and other basic necessities – an annual problem experienced by 585,000 Minnesotan households in 2012 alone. Check out the short video below.
RREAL addresses this community challenge by providing households struggling to meet their heat needs with a long-term, domestic and carbon-neutral solution by installing a solar-powered furnace on homes of families and...
Thu, 02/06/2014 - 1:39pm
Minnesota consumed a total of 1,979 trillion Btus of energy in 2008. Of this, Minnesota industry consumed approximately 33% or 615 trillion Btus, including 30,000 gigawatt hours of electricity and 100 million MCF of natural gas to deliver products and services.
These use levels motivated recommendations for energy efficient technologies and practices aimed at meeting target reductions established by state and federal policy. Adoption of these recommendations would also provide significant cost savings to businesses.
To address energy conservation, the Minnesota legislature passed the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which calls for all utilities in Minnesota to achieve an energy savings goal of 1.5% of gross annual retail energy sales. In addition, the National Energy Policy Act of 2005 was signed to encourage industry to reduce energy intensity by 2.5% each year between 2007 and...
Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 02/06/2014 - 8:09am
Fifteen research and development grant projects that will ultimately help Minnesota consumers and businesses save energy, cut energy bills, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions were announced recently by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. The grants, totaling nearly $3.3 million, are funded by the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program and administered by staff of Commerce’s Conservation Improvement Program.
The CARD Grant Program was created to help achieve the state energy conservation goal as established by the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The Act established an energy conservation policy “to achieve annual energy savings equal to 1.5 percent of annual retail energy sales of electricity and natural gas” directly through utility conservation improvement programs and indirectly through energy codes, education, market...