Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:53pm
While soaring propane prices last winter helped build interest in solar thermal systems, results from a Minnesota rebate program show the market is still lukewarm.
The state’s Department of Commerce has enough rebate money left over to fund dozens more solar hot water or solar thermal projects through its Made in Minnesota (MiM) program. Meanwhile, a much larger pool of money for PV has been exhausted.
Although the deadline for rebates has formally passed, MiM’s coordinator Kim Havey said the department has extended the program until the end of the year. Solar thermal could be particularly attractive to rural customers using propane, which may be in...
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:03pm
Two federal funding programs are on the near horizon for turkey producers and other farmers to access funds to make energy upgrades on Minnesota farms.
See below for more info on each of the programs, as well as an opportunity through the Clean Energy Resource Teams to get help navigating each of the opportunities.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps farmers evaluate energy saving opportunities and provides financial assistance to help make energy upgrades happen. EQIP requires an audit first (the program pays for most—if not all—of it). After the audit, you can apply for financial assistance for a lighting project or any other recommendations in the audit.
Applications for this program are accepted on a continuous basis and there are three...
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 12:05pm
The Minnesota Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) employs skilled, retired professionals to provide facility assessments and community sustainability assistance to small businesses, institutions, and communities in Minnesota.
Recommendations may be simple behavior changes, maintenance improvements, or more complicated retrofits. While you are under no obligation to implement the recommendations, a high percentage of surveyed clients do. Average savings from RETAP recommendations implemented in 2012 was over $2,000 per client.
To find out more or to request a free assessment: Visit the...
Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:24am
The story from Lake Crystal shows that leadership must not necessarily come from the top; interns can do a great deal of directing positive change in a city. With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results.
Joan directed the updating of meter readings and building information in B3 Benchmarking and examined the analyses provided by the program for both the city and school district. “To the surprise of many, the city’s building’s fell all across the spectrum of performance, with the newest building on the poorer performing side.”
She then considered the next-step options available for the city saying, “Since Lake Crystal couldn’t go forward with the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program due to budget constraints, we prioritized the Lake...
Fri, 09/19/2014 - 4:08pm
You might remember seeing a survey in February asking a few questions about Community Solar Gardens (CSGs).
CSGs are a way for Minnesotans to subscribe to a portion of a large solar project and receive credit on their energy bill for their portion of the project’s electricity production—just as they would if the panels were on their own roofs.
CERTs is continuing its work with researchers from the University of St. Thomas to better understand which aspects of community solar are most important to you and which factors would most influence your decision to subscribe to a project. We’d love to include your insights in a follow-up survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete.
The results of the survey will be shared in a report in early 2015. Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name.
Thu, 09/18/2014 - 9:26am
The big National Drive Electric Week event is coming up this weekend—Sunday, September 21st from 1:00 to 4:00pm at the State Capitol Mall.
To learn more about the event and electric vehicles (EVs) in general, we spoke with Matthew Blackner, Founder of ZEF Energy.
Joel Haskard: Who should come out to this event?
Matthew Blackner: Ever wondered what the fuss was all about? Want to cut through the marketing guff and ask ACTUAL owners what the limitations are and how to deal with them? Then this event is for you! If you like what you hear, or want to feel what it is like to drive a car with instant torque, there is a test drive of a fleet electric vehicles round a track on the Thursday afterwards.
Joel: What is something surprising folks might not know about EVs in...
Wed, 09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in AmeriCorps service with Minnesota GreenCorps for immediate placement during the 2014-2015 program year in the City of Maplewood.
Help the City meet energy and sustainability goals by implementing their Partners in Energy Program as follows:
Serve as the City’s Energy Ambassador
Assemble an energy action team made up of leaders and stakeholders across the community
Help create a strategic energy action plan with an incentive and award program for voluntary compliance with the City’s Green Building Code
Networking, outreach, and education for schools/businesses/neighborhood groups
Work on completion of Green Step Cities best practices
Help implement energy efficiency upgrades to City buildings and track improvements
How do you apply?
The member application...
Tue, 09/02/2014 - 10:37am
Love energy efficiency, renewables, and helping others save money? Like to work with local units of government on helping them finance their clean energy projects? Then consider joining CERTs!
We have a new position open—a Local Government Outreach Coordinator. Read on for more information. If you’re interested in applying, click here for more details.
The application deadline is September 15, 2014, so apply now!
Summary of Job Description: Over the past several years CERTs has worked to build its network with local units of government through efforts like Minnesota GreenStep Cities, developing a local government energy efficiency story series, and by promoting financing tools like the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and Local Public Buildings...
Wed, 08/27/2014 - 10:00am
The Minnesota National Guard and Minnesota Power will join forces to build a major solar energy project at Camp Ripley, the largest military base in Minnesota.
The Minnesota National Guard and Duluth-based Minnesota Power today signed a memorandum of understanding outlining plans to build a 10-megawatt utility-scale solar energy array spanning 100 acres at Camp Ripley. The project will be the largest solar energy installation on any National Guard base in the country. Minnesota Power will also identify ways to help the Guard save 30 percent of its energy, and install backup generation for energy security at Camp Ripley.
“The Minnesota National Guard and specifically Camp Ripley has been long looking for ways to increase our environmental stewardship. This signing marks a milestone along our path to making that vision a reality,” said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota...
Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:23am
Minnesota’s solar power industry is in a growth spurt that’s about to accelerate. The industry, once focused largely on installing solar photovoltaic panels for homes, businesses, and government, now is seeing a surge in investment by electric utilities. Sparking the surge is a 2013 state law requiring investor-owned utilities to get 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2020.
At least three Minnesota cooperatives are offering solar options to customers who want rooftop solar, but can’t install it because of too much shade, condo restrictions or other reasons. Customers like Dave Willard of Forest Lake have been eager to invest in large, centrally located projects called community solar gardens, whose output is credited to their bills.
Cooperative power companies, especially Great River Energy in Maple Grove, are building more than 20 solar projects this year and next,...