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Tesla Powerwall
Isaac Mielke
Fri, 08/21/2015 - 7:48am
Tesla generated much publicity after its April introduction of the Powerwall. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it stores electricity for consumption, load shifting, and backup power. Intended for residential purposes, Tesla has partnered with SolarCity to sell the 10 kWh Powerwall systems for $5,000. The Powerwall can store solar energy from your solar panels and act as a backup power source during a power failure. It collects cheap energy from off-peak hours and releases it during peak consumption time, flattening demand spikes and saving money. Powered by renewable energy, this battery sits on a wall and autonomously switches on. One 10 kWh Powerwall supports a refrigerator, computer, lighting, alarm systems, and electrical outlets—and an optional second Powerwall completes the household. A 7 kWh model will also be...
Students tour solar panels with Just-B-Solar Camp, part of Just Community Solar Coalition's effort to educate youth
Jinny Kim
Sun, 08/16/2015 - 1:30pm
While it’s true that solar energy is more affordable and prevalent than ever before in Minnesota and across the US, high up-front costs and a large share of renters still prevents many low and middle income people from benefiting from the growth in solar. To narrow this gap, a handful of groups in Minnesota have been working to increase access to solar, regardless of income.   Just Community Solar Coalition   Just Community Solar Coalition is a project of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) and their partners: Cooperative Energy Futures, Community Power, Sierra Club, and Renewable NRG Partners. The Coalition seeks to make solar production and solar training programs accessible...
Minnesota GreenStep Cities
Patrick Mathwig
Wed, 08/05/2015 - 5:55pm
The workshops during the 2014-2015 GreenStep Workshop Series covered a wide range of topics that are important to cities, providing a wealth of information and resources. To access that information and the resources from the workshops check out their webinar recordings and PDFs of their presentation and additional resources on this page! Also, don’t forget to register for upcoming workshops and webinars for 2015-2016!   October – Benchmarking and What the Heck is Step 4 Anyway?   No webinar recording is available for the October workshop, click here for a summary of the workshop.   November – Bike, Ped and Transit Options:   November workshop presentations and resources:...
40 Under 40 Award
Dan Thiede
Wed, 08/05/2015 - 11:26am
CERTs is a proud partner of Midwest Energy News’ recently launched 40 Under 40 Award program that seeks to highlight emerging leaders throughout the region who work to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The program is open to Midwest-based innovators from all sectors—government, business, regulatory, academic, advocacy, and industry—and nominations will be accepted until 10:00pm on Monday, August 17th. Are you, or do you know, a strong emerging leader who fits this criteria? Nominate her or him today!
Curious consumers tour LREC community solar garden in Pelican Rapids
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Tue, 08/04/2015 - 11:42am
On a sunny afternoon July 9, 2015, four regions of Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) co-hosted an event on community solar gardens (CSGs) at LREC’s facility in Pelican Rapids. Open to the public, the event included a discussion on CSGs, a panel of northern and central Minnesotan utilities to review their community solar efforts, and a tour of LREC’s Community Solar Installation. Students, local community members and leaders from utilities, businesses, and schools networked over lemonade. After a welcome from CERTs and LREC, Dan Husted, VP Energy Services, and Steve Haiby, Energy Services Supervisor of LREC, led a tour of LREC’s Community Solar Garden Installations on the grounds of the cooperative’s headquarters. With 100 kW of panels and 60 subscribers, the system utilizes tenK solar panels (which include a reflective film in the...
John Shardlow, Stantec
John Shardlow
Sat, 08/01/2015 - 3:52pm
One of the most important responsibilities our cities have is to build and maintain public infrastructure. The private sector invests in reliance on this public investment and together we build diverse communities, supporting a high quality of life for our citizens. In the Urban Land Institute’s publication Infrastructure 2014 – Shaping the Competitive City, 250 public sector leaders in local and regional government and 200 senior-level private developers were surveyed. The quality of infrastructure was the top ranked factor by both groups when identifying drivers of real estate investments. Cities face multiple challenges when building and maintaining infrastructure. It is often said that it is hard enough to garner public support for the revenues needed to maintain existing...
Isaac Mielke
Thu, 07/30/2015 - 2:11pm
Drive Electric Minnesota – an organization that promotes electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in charging infrastructure statewide—presents the Zero Emission Charging Challenge (ZECC). ZECC hopes to power all public charging stations with Windsource, Xcel Energy’s renewable energy program. EVs produce no air pollutants, but the electricity necessary for charging exhausts fossil fuels. However, EVs can use either wind or solar power. When paired with renewable energy, EVs eliminate all air pollutants while driving and charging. Solar-powered EV charging stations already exist in Albert Lea and Austin, as well as in the metro area at Como Park, McMurray Fields, SunRay Library, River Centre, the State Capital, Haaf Ramp, and the Minneapolis Public School Headquarters. Check out this interactive map to...
Green Jobs
Isaac Mielke
Thu, 07/30/2015 - 12:06pm
Looking for a great green job in the clean energy sector? Below are four positions here in Minnesota that might be the perfect fit for you. Good luck with your applications!   Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) Executive Director This powerful position heads M-RETS. The Executive Director advises on policy, develops annual budgets, and serves as primary ambassador. M-RETS requires a passion for the renewable energy, five years of experience in the field, and extensive higher education. Learn more & apply >>   Neighborhood Energy Connection Communications Associate The Communications Associate writes newsletters, manages social media, and edits the website. Qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree and one year of related...
Isaac Mielke
Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:20pm
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has recently partnered with the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) to offer online courses in its BuildingEnergy Masters Series. This partnership expands the MREA’s scope of training from renewable energy technologies to now include sustainable building practices as well. NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Masters Series runs on a platform powered by HeatSpring to give students access to the masters of building science, on their own time, from any location. Fall 2015 Courses Passive House in the Real World is a four-week online course that focuses on tips, tricks, pitfalls, and what to expect when making Passive House a reality. Led by instructor Mike Duclos, the course runs from September 14 to October 9, 2015. Deep Energy Retrofits is a 10-week online course taught by Marc Rosenbaum. Learn to “fix what we have” by examining...
ENERGY STAR
Dan Thiede
Fri, 07/17/2015 - 10:35am
ENERGY STAR certification is a nationally recognized symbol of building efficiency. It tells current and potential occupants that owners care about running the building well, being financially prudent, and being environmentally responsible. There are currently two separate grant opportunities for ENERGY STAR building certification in Minnesota. The first is for commercial buildings within the City of Minneapolis who want to pursue certification. The second is for the Minnesota ENERGY STAR Challenge, which will work with commercial building owners across the state and also select a community partner to help promote certification in their area. See below for more details on each opportunity or click here if you’re wondering why certification matters.  ...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 4:22pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has just announced two new financing programs that are available for local governments and public entities in the state interested in pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. New Rev It Up Program to help local government units finance community energy efficiency, renewable energy projects   Through its new Rev It Up Program, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is soliciting request for proposals from local government units that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects. The program allows units of local government to compete for funding designed to increase community energy efficiency systems in the built environments and to increase renewable energy production throughout the state that result in reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas...
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 07/15/2015 - 10:01am
If your farm has ever had demand charges on your utility bill, you know that they can have a dramatic impact on cost. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid demand charges. This blog post walks you through a basic understanding of demand charges and then offers key tips to keep your bills lower.   What are demand charges?   Every utility in Minnesota classifies their customers into different electricity rate structures to pay for the electric grid and power generation. Typically, customers are classified into farm/residential, commercial, and industrial categories. Large commercial and industrial customers—including many farm facilities with equipment like grain dryers and irrigation pumps that rely on large volumes of electricity—are often placed on “demand accounts” and pay “demand charges” in their monthly bills. Customers on demand accounts see monthly energy...
Passive solar farmhouse in Esko, MN (not house from this story)
Isaac Mielke
Tue, 07/14/2015 - 2:35pm
Rick Soltis’ parents built a passive solar house outside of Holdingford in 1983. Located about twenty miles northwest of St. Cloud, his home relies on windows, walls, and floors to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. Rick’s parents wanted to construct as sustainable a house as possible for their retirement home, and after inheriting the home, Rick now plans to spend his retirement there. This environmentally friendly style dramatically reduces energy bills. Extremely well insulated, this home boasts five different heating methods and a thermostat in every room. A rock pit underneath the year-round greenhouse both heats and cools the house. The solar heating system remains unused, as the house generates enough heat already. A propane furnace serves as a backup. Rick’s property includes a forest, which...
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...

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