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PACE in southern MN
Annette Fiedler
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 9:47am
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners in cities and counties that allow it. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing. We spoke with Richard Otten, a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), to learn more about the energy audits of businesses he provides, some of which are done for the Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB) commercial PACE program. CERTs: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. Richard Otten: My name is Richard Otten. I have been a CEM (Certified Energy Manager) since 2011. The Association of Energy Engineers provides this certification. I...
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://mncerts.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. Spread the word on Twitter! Check out map of utility community #solar programs in MN by...
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...
Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN
Annette Fiedler
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:14am
Larry and Deb Potter own Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN. For a long time they thought about saving energy with lighting upgrades, but they could not find the right financing to get it done. When they attended a seminar hosted by the Rural Minnesota Energy Board on their new Property-Assessed Clean Energy (or PACE) program, it shed new light on their goals. With the financing received through RMEB’s PACE program, as well as rebates from Worthington Public Utilities and a grant through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Potters have made the needed updates to the canopy and other outdoor lighting at the truck stop and are now looking...
Parkwood Place in Mountain Lake, MN
Annette Fiedler
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 8:19am
Parkwood Place in Mountain Lake, MN provides assisted living and senior care options for elderly adults. They recently utilized the Rural Minnesota Energy Board’s Property Assessed Clean Energy—or PACE—program to finance energy efficiency upgrades in their facility. Through PACE, energy-saving measures pursued by Parkwood Place received project financing and will be repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing. We chatted with Bill Freitag, President of JAND Development who owns Parkwood Place, to learn more about their experience and the work they accomplished using PACE. CERTs: What motivated you to apply for PACE funding? Bill Freitag: I received a mailer with the utility bill for Parkwood Place that offered PACE...
New Streetlights in Russell
Joel Haskard
Mon, 04/06/2015 - 11:35am
Cities across Minnesota are finding real savings converting their streetlights to LEDs. We spoke with Brian Jeremiason, Energy Services Manager with Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative, to learn more about his experiences. Joel Haskard: It sounds like you have several LED streetlight projects in the works. Can you tell us more? Brian Jeremiason: We completed the conversion for the City of Russell this past spring, and hope to get started soon in the communities of Lynd and Arco. Joel Haskard: Why switch to LED streetlights? Brian Jeremiason: We were approached by the City of Russell, they were looking for ways to reduce their energy usage and costs. We identified the streetlight conversion project as an easy to implement improvement that could meet both goals. In 2012, street lighting in the City of Russell accounted for 84,473 kWh of usage and cost the city and its residents...
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...
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,...

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