Southwest Blog Posts
Bringing you news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state. Tell your story.
Stories to help you
get to the bottom of
your energy questions
|Local Government Energy Action
Stories highlighting the
energy-saving efforts of
cities, counties & schools
in your inbox
Wed, 07/27/2016 - 11:59am
This was reposted with permission from the original blog on the Great Plains Institute website. The Great Plains Institute, one of the CERTs partner organizations, is working with communities across the Midwest to develop local solar resources and capture the economic and environmental value of solar energy. The rooftop “solar reserve” of Midwestern cities (the solar equivalent of oil and gas “reserves”) is a vast and largely untapped local energy resource. Rooftop solar resources could, with current technology, generate an equivalent of 25-70% of the total local annual electric use in most cities. To help cities tap these resources, GPI works through the Grow Solar Partnership, a multi-state, U.S. Department of Energy funded effort led by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to...
Mon, 07/25/2016 - 4:02pm
Community Solar Gardens can be an excellent opportunity for cities, counties, and other local governments to get involved in solar energy and engage community members. Some have already taken action, but many are still wondering whether or not a subscription is the right fit for their local government. To answer their questions, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) staff ran a webinar to provide an overview of community solar and then dig into the details that can help local governments make decisions. Webinar Recording Click play below to watch the webinar, and scroll down further to find the slides and other tools from the event. Want to jump to specific content? Here are timestamps for our three speakers: Start: Community Solar Garden Overview (includes description of Xcel Energy’s Solar Community Program) – Lissa Pawlisch, Director, Clean Energy...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 11:18am
The purpose of the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program is to identify new technologies, strategies, and program approaches that utilities can implement to help achieve the annual state energy conservation goal of 1.5% as established by the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. Results of recent projects (summarized below) could prove promising for effective utility programs. Motivating Manufacturing Energy Efficiency The goal of Motivating Manufacturing Energy Efficiency, a CARD grant awarded to the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) in 2013, was to demonstrate and carry out a potential CIP program strategy that integrates energy assessments and lean manufacturing tools into MnTAP-sponsored...
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:46am
Minnesota wastewater treatment plants can get help to achieve energy efficiency through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is a program partner and will help facilitate assistance for Minnesota plants. According to the DOE, “The Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator will work over three years with state, regional, and local agencies that are engaging with water resource recovery facilities in their jurisdiction to accelerate a pathway toward a sustainable infrastructure of the future. The Accelerator aims to catalyze the adoption of innovative and best-practice approaches in data management, technologies, and financing for infrastructure improvement. Partners will seek to improve the energy efficiency of their...
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:24am
USDA Rural Development offers an array of programs to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural Minnesota. A new Program Summary guide offers an overview of all programs—it’s a must-read resource for learning about how your goals and projects could be supported. What exactly does USDA Rural Development do in Minnesota? Offer loans, grants and loan guarantees to support essential services such as housing, economic development, health care, first responder services and equipment, and water, electric and communications infrastructure. Promote economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. Offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. Provide technical assistance to help...
Mon, 07/18/2016 - 2:10pm
The 40 Under 40 award program from Midwest Energy News seeks to highlight emerging leaders throughout the region who are working to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The program is open to innovators from all sectors—government, business, regulatory, academic, advocacy, and industry—and nominations will be accepted until 12:00pm CT on August 5th. Do you know a strong emerging leader who fits these criteria? Click here to nominate him or her today! Looking back at Minnesota’s 2015 winners… Becky Alexander, Designer & Researcher, LHB: With a Master of Science in Sustainable Design supplementing her professional architecture degree, Becky Alexander combines sustainable building...
Thu, 07/14/2016 - 8:31am
With energy costs on the rise and the cost of solar PV coming down, farmers like Jim Jorgenson of Westbrook, MN are cashing in on renewable energy. This spring, Jorgenson added a 30kW solar array to the 10kW wind turbine he installed a couple years back. With a cash grant from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and a 30% Federal Tax Credit, the solar installer estimates that the solar array—which was made in the USA and has a 25 year warranty—will payback in just under four years. Learn more about the project in...
Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:22am
The Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation Annual Leader Award honors businesses that have made significant strides toward environmentally sustainable business practices. Award winners are an exceptional group of committed organizations that serve as models of excellence in environmentally sustainable operations within their industry and community. Leader Award winners are chosen each year by a panel of judges that may include Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation Board of Directors and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce employees. Two awards will be given; one will be given to a for profit business and one to a non-profit organization or public entity. Winners will be honored at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Business Conference and Annual Meeting on October 11, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Award winners will...
Keith Butcher - SMMPA
Wed, 07/13/2016 - 4:03pm
Started in 1936 by Ed and Garnette Tersteeg, Tersteeg’s Market and Holiday Gas has been a cornerstone family business in the Redwood Falls community for 80 years. In 1967, Jim succeeded his father in ownership of the business. Their current location at 1111 East Bridge Street has been their base of operation since 1983 and employs over 130 people. This longevity has provided them the ability to make long-term investments in their facility to save energy and reduce overall operating costs. For assistance they turned to Redwood Falls Public Utilities to identify potential equipment upgrades and provide utility rebates. The partnership with Redwood Falls Public Utilities started many years ago with Jim and is continuing with the next generation as BJ, Jim’s...
Wed, 07/13/2016 - 9:42am
More than 80 people gathered in Minneapolis last month for the last of four regional workshops on community solar sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership. A major thrust of DOE’s outreach efforts is to engage solar developers, clean energy advocates and policymakers on community solar issues, while also providing a forum for developers to share best practices and strategies for bringing solar to millions of Americans who lack the ability or means to install systems on their own rooftops. Among the core demographic groups embracing community solar, officials said, are urbanites, middle- and low-income residents who rent rather than own their rooftops, and millennials, who have a personal interest in technologies and market structures that advance the...
Wed, 07/13/2016 - 9:04am
Folks in Redwood County might know Knott’s Corner Bar and Grill in the town of Lucan (pop. 191) for their delicious Buffalo Wings. What they might not know is that the business has become much more energy efficient and is saving energy dollars with the help of the Rural Minnesota Energy Board’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Not familiar with PACE? Property-Assessed Clean Energy (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 as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. After a couple years successfully running Knott’s Corner,...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 07/11/2016 - 4:44pm
Keeping our homes cool and comfortable during Minnesota’s hot, humid summer months is a challenge for all of us. And it sounds like we’re getting ready for a scorcher next week! Many of our daily activities produce heat and moisture inside our homes. But a few simple changes in our routines can reduce temperature and humidity levels, adding comfort while also saving on air conditioning costs: Use appliances at cooler times. Plan to use appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers and dishwashers in the evening, when it is cooler. These devices can give off a lot of heat when they operate, adding to the air conditioning load. Turn it off. Make sure that any unneeded devices or lighting, especially incandescent lights, are turned off or unplugged. Computers, TVs,...
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 9:34am
When it comes to sustainability, it’s more likely these days that cities are working on advancing energy, water, economic, and environmental practices than not. This sense that ‘everyone’s doing it’ with sustainability is in part due to a statewide program called Minnesota GreenStep Cities, a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program designed specifically for Minnesota that now has over 100 participating cities. “Over 40% of Minnesota residents now live in a city that participates in the GreenStep Cities program,” noted Don Reeder with the League of Minnesota Cities. “An overwhelming number of cities are actively working on actions that fall into the five best practice categories of Building and Lighting, Land Use, Transportation, Environmental Management, and Economic and Community Development.” Awards and Recognition...
Mon, 06/27/2016 - 3:03pm
Things are in bloom all over Minnesota right now, including solar energy, and more and more solar installations across the state will be supporting the creatures that pollinate our plants. Gov. Dayton recently signed the Solar Sanctuaries Act into law on May 31, 2016. The Solar Sanctuaries Act establishes voluntary native vegetation and habitat management practices for solar developers and local governments alike to maximize habitat creation for birds, pollinators, and other small wildlife. The new law serves to verify claims that commercial solar installations are helping to create pollinator habitat when they sign a Pollinator Pledge. CERTs...
Sun, 06/26/2016 - 2:09pm
This article is an excerpt from the original by Marie Wood at “The Land” magazine. When the Fullers decided to save the barn on their farm near Trimont, MN and add on a shop, they embarked on a decade-long journey that ended with a reclaimed barn, a geothermal heating and cooling system for energy efficiency, and a solar array to power the farm with renewable energy. Both Doug and Kris Fuller grew up on local farms. Kris grew up on a dairy farm down the road. Their acreage, which they bought around 1990, includes a farmhouse, small lake, woods, pasture and 70 tillable acres. In May, they installed a 14 kilowatt solar array on the barn’s south-facing roof; a southern exposure is critical. The payback is estimated at seven to 10...
Sun, 06/26/2016 - 1:34pm
Solar energy is a hot topic in Minnesota, and people are hungry for in-depth, un-biased information. The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) adapted a popular series of guides for Minnesota audiences, and they’re now available for download. The new series of factsheets, called Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business, is designed to help you determine if a solar electric system will work for you. Overview of Series Introduction: Basic educational information, myth busting, and orientation. Building & Site Assessment: Building and site conditions to consider. Conservation & Efficiency: Conserving and using energy more efficiently can reduce the system size and cost. System Components: Provides detailed information about system options and components. System Sizing: Proper sizing is important for a resource-efficient and...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Sun, 06/26/2016 - 12:17pm
Does your home or business get enough sun to generate solar power? You can now get an answer—quick, easy, and free—with a convenient online mapping tool called the Minnesota Solar App. Simply by typing in your address, you can get an instant analysis of the solar energy potential of your property. The app is available at http://mn.gov/solarapp and can be used on a computer, tablet or smartphone. “The Minnesota Solar App is a user-friendly tool that can help Minnesotans decide whether a solar power installation is right for them,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Solar is already a bright spot in Minnesota’s energy picture. It will only get bigger and brighter in the coming years. This app makes it even easier for more Minnesotans to go solar.” The typical single family home...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Sat, 06/25/2016 - 2:26pm
Affordable solar thermal systems are now within reach for more Minnesota homes and businesses. The Commerce Department announced that it will offer rebate opportunities beginning March 30, 2016 to all residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. Applications will be reviewed and funded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds have been fully reserved. Minnesota families may save up to $2,500, while businesses may save up to $25,000. “Solar thermal technology can take some of the unpredictability out of heating costs by adding renewable energy as a complement to current heating sources,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The rebates will now help make installing solar heating a more affordable option for Minnesota businesses and residents.” The state’s solar incentive program, signed in to law by...
Tue, 06/21/2016 - 9:01am
There are now more than 100 cities in Minnesota participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Most of the cities involved are small-to-medium-sized cities where the support of a savvy intern can help staff go the extra step on accomplishing best practices. But how should a mutually-beneficial internship be structured and run? A new GreenStep Cities Internship Manual answers these questions and more! If your city is looking for the support of an intern but unsure how to structure the mutually-beneficial opportunity, then the new Minnesota GreenStep Cities Intern Manual will be a valuable resource that can help you each step of the way. The GreenStep Cities intern for the City of La Crescent was recently featured...
Mon, 06/20/2016 - 1:44pm
Minnesota is not too shabby when it comes to clean energy these days. Below are recent reports from two national organizations, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), highlighting Minnesota’s place in the solar and wind energy landscape. SEIA 2015 Report Minnesota expected to crack top 10 states for annual solar installations Minnesota is poised to climb from 25th to the top 10 states for annual solar installations in 2016, according to state solar projections. Based on utility filings and industry projections, the Minnesota Department of Commerce expects the state’s solar capacity to increase by more than 500 megawatts (MW) in 2016. This will be a 15-fold increase in the state’s total installed solar energy capacity of 35 MW at the end of 2015. If the 500 MW had been added in 2015, it would have made...