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Chris Meyer
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:30am
This is an excerpt from a recent story by Mark Fischenich in the Mankato Free Press. The city of Mankato will reduce its future electrical bills by $1.9 million through subscriptions to solar energy projects in the area, boosting the savings by more than 50 percent from its initial agreement last summer. The subscriptions mean nearly all of the power going to the city’s 10 biggest municipal consumers — ranging from the street lighting system to the civic center to the sewage treatment plant — will be supplied by Xcel Energy at a discounted rate. That figure could grow if more community solar gardens are developed in Blue Earth County or adjacent counties, said Public Works Director Jeff Johnson. “Right now, we’re at 92 percent,...
Zero Energy Schools program
Peter Lindstrom
Mon, 02/20/2017 - 1:39pm
Minnesota and California along with six school districts and several national organizations are implementing partners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) new Zero Energy Schools Accelerator program, the DOE announced on Dec. 6. The Accelerator is part of the DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative and its ongoing strategy to advance energy efficiency and accelerate the market adoption of Zero Energy Buildings. “K-12 schools have good replication potential and can lead the way to market transformation of zero energy construction,” according to the DOE. “The Zero Energy Schools Accelerator aims to reduce the energy consumption of schools, while enhancing the educational environment for our nation’s students and making Zero Energy Buildings mainstream.” A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building, where, on a source energy basis, the actual delivery of energy is less than or...
Kruse Motors in Marshall, MN goes solar
Annette Fiedler
Thu, 02/16/2017 - 11:48am
This is an excerpt from a recent Marshall Independent story by Deb Gau. Over the past few months, Heather Westman said, there have been plenty of questions from the community about the solar panels going up behind the Kruse Motors dealerships in Marshall. “It’s been really positive. The biggest question has been whether they belong to the hockey arena, or to the city, or us,” said Westman, dealer at Kruse Buick GMC in Marshall. Although they are in the same neighborhood as the Red Baron Arena and Marshall High School, the two rows of solar panels running behind the dealerships are part of Kruse Motors. Since the beginning of the January, they’ve been helping to generate electricity for Kruse Ford Lincoln and Kruse Buick GMC. The solar panels at Kruse Motors can generate about 236...
2016-2017 GreenCorps Members
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/08/2017 - 10:29am
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is accepting applications from organizations interested in participating as a host site for the 2017-2018 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps program. Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00pm on Friday, March 17, 2017. About: Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA, which places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. More Info: Host site application packets, including a detailed guidance document and the application are available on the...
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 01/25/2017 - 1:44pm
According to a recent article by Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio, “It took about 10 years to go from virtually nothing to 35 megawatts of capacity in 2015, but last year that jumped to 250 megawatts.” Click here to listen to the full story >> More and more cities, counties, businesses, and homeowners are finding that solar makes sense for their bottom line. The technology has never been more accessible to Minnesotans, and we’ll continue to explore the models and tools that will allow solar installations—and in turn jobs—to continue to grow. If you’re ready to learn more about solar and take action, check out the...
Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 1:47pm
Applications for the fourth year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, and ending Feb. 28, 2017. The 10-year, $150-million program helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses, and communities. The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. In its first three years, the Made in Minnesota solar initiative has catalyzed the state’s rooftop solar market and helped put Minnesota on track to meet its renewable electricity and solar electricity goals. The program has boosted Minnesota’s clean energy economy, making solar more affordable for homeowners and businesses, helping to create more clean energy jobs and diversifying the state’s renewable energy portfolio. Applicants of Made in...
LED holiday lights - More merry and less money
Dan Thiede
Thu, 12/22/2016 - 1:53pm
Are you still stringing the same old incandescent decorative lights for the holidays?   For many Minnesotans, the house, porch, shrubs and trees are donned with holiday lights. Depending on one’s holiday lighting enthusiasm, a home can save between $10 to $250 each holiday season by switching to LED holiday lighting. This is because, according to the Department of Energy, LED holiday lights save up to 90% of the energy used by traditional incandescent holiday lights. LEDs are also safer, sturdier, longer lasting, and easier to install. Fill your stocking with energy savings: For every old holiday lighting string recycled and replaced with more efficient LED holiday lighting, 19 kilowatt-hours of electricity are saved over the course of the holiday season. This is the same amount of energy as a common CFL household light bulb would use if left on for 24 hours a day for 2...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 11/01/2016 - 1:33pm
There are some basic energy-saving steps we can all take to keep the warm air in and our utility bills down this fall and winter. A few simple no-cost or low-cost measures can make a big difference for the safety, comfort and efficiency of our homes. The Minnesota Commerce Department, which includes the State Energy Office, offers the following tips: Get an energy audit. The first step to energy efficiency is an advanced home energy assessment to diagnose the best ways to save energy. An audit can be arranged through your utility or a nonprofit energy group. Lower your thermostat. When you are at home or awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or away from home, turn your thermostat down about 10 degrees—either manually or...
Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 10/25/2016 - 10:39am
Eight communities are receiving 2016 Minnesota Clean Energy Community Awards from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The program recognizes communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. The eight awardees and their clean energy efforts are summarized below.     Achievement Awards City of Hutchinson Clean Energy Generation: Capped Landfill Solar Development In November 2015, the City of Hutchinson completed construction of a 400 kW solar array constructed on a capped landfill. The array is the first of its kind in Minnesota and will be a model for ushering in the solar revolution in Minnesota while minimizing environmental impacts of solar arrays.   City of Minneapolis...
Project North Star in Minnesota receives funding from DOE SunShot Initiative
Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 10/20/2016 - 4:08pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has been awarded a $2 million grant that will help realize Minnesota’s goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030. The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is called “Project North Star: Illuminating the Way to PV Integration.” It will combine a stakeholder collaboration process with technical analysis to support Minnesota’s deployment of solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics (PV). “Diversifying Minnesota’s energy portfolio with additional solar electricity will create new economic opportunities for people across our state, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that hurt our health and environment,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank the U.S. Department of Energy for providing the grant, and look forward to working with our Minnesota-based...
Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 award program
Dan Thiede
Wed, 10/05/2016 - 2:21pm
Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 award program highlights emerging leaders throughout the region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy. This year’s cohort of Midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors—industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy—have just been announced. Below we’re highlighting the Minnesota winners, but you can click here to see all of them across the Midwest. Congrats!   Matthew AndersonVice President of Climate, National Audubon Society Matthew Anderson began as the Director of Audubon’s Climate Initiative in 2015. He joined Audubon in 2013 as the Executive Director of Audubon Minnesota. Anderson...
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 09/28/2016 - 12:31pm
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson asks livestock producers to apply for a portion of $2 million in grants available for on-farm improvements. “Livestock Investment Grants help farmers stay competitive and reinvest in their industry. Last year, we had 104 livestock farmers receive grants to improve their operation,” said Frederickson.   What have farmers already done with the grant funding? Jared Franke of Hayfield constructed a new beef barn to increase efficiency and allow the next generation to enter into the family farming operation. Michael Laue of Fairmont constructed a 2,400 head swine facility to increase profitability and allow a young farmer to start farming full time. Matthew and David Hanson of Goodridge expanded and improved current dairy facilities by adding a robotic milking unit and installing equipment to improve...
If your furnace looks like this it may be time for an upgrade
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 09/21/2016 - 8:24am
As another Minnesota winter approaches, homeowners may be looking to replace an old, worn-out or inefficient heating system with a new high-efficiency model. Most furnaces have a useful life of 15-20 years, while most boilers will last 20-30 years. If your furnace or boiler is nearing the end of its expected life, you should start planning your replacement strategy, including what to buy and how to pay for it. If you have made the decision to buy a new heating system, the Minnesota Commerce Department wants you to be aware of some options to help pay for it: Loans: The Lending Center at the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) offers the Home Energy Loan Program for Minnesota homeowners to make energy improvements. It offers secured loans of up to $20,000 (4.99% fixed rate, terms up to 10...
Community solar garden resources
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Tue, 09/20/2016 - 3:36pm
This past spring, thanks to support from the University of Minnesota’s Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership, Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden Shaw had the opportunity to work with Connor Schaefer, a Masters student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Connor did all sorts of research for CERTs on community solar gardens, and we wanted to take an opportunity to share a compendium of resources that Connor compiled. Enjoy!   Community Solar Garden Resource Guide   There is a wealth of information regarding community solar gardens available from various sources, including many that we at CERTs have helped to create. Thanks to Connor Schaefer’s work, we now have a categorized compilation of resources in Guides & Reports, ...
Xcel Energy Partners in Energy Program
Peter Lindstrom
Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:00am
What do people living and working in your community want in energy efficiency and sustainability? Communities can partner with Xcel Energy to identify and prioritize their energy needs. The utility provides tools and resources to develop a plan and then supports putting it into action. It’s called Partners in Energy. Residents, local businesses, city operations, and municipal leaders work together to create energy plans. It’s a coordinated effort that’s truly rooted in the local community. Watch a short video here or check out a great infographic about the program. “We‘re excited to see communities...
Sustainable Home Tour
Chris Meyer
Mon, 09/19/2016 - 1:01pm
The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s Sustainable Home Tour (formerly known as the Solar Tour) has annually featured energy efficient, renewably powered, and all around sustainable homes around Minnesota for 25+ years. This year the Sustainable Home Tour will be on Saturday October 1, 2016 with hours from 10am to 3pm. We chatted with Chris Meyer, SE CERT Coordinator and organizer of the Greater Minnesota portion of the Sustainable Home Tour. How can learn more about the various sites?   Chris Meyer: People can explore the site features and locations of our 30+ statewide sites in advance via our google map, which is linked to detailed information and photos of each home/site. Visitors can expect that someone will be available at each...
Tesla offering free chargers to Minnesota hotels and resorts
Joel Haskard
Thu, 09/08/2016 - 11:47am
Tesla is hoping that owners of Minnesota hotels and resorts will want to attract drivers of Tesla vehicles to their property by joining Tesla’s destination charging network. As part of their current program, properties will receive their first two Tesla wall connectors free of charge as long as they are installed in visible or convenient locations. Interested hotels, resorts, clubs, or other full-service destinations interested in partnering with Tesla to install charging hardware need to fill out a form on Tesla’s website to get the process started. Judging from the map provided, nine hotels and lodges have taken advantage of this opportunity in Minnesota so far. That isn’t very many. Considering that back in May of this year, nearly 375,000 people had already pre-ordered the Tesla Model 3, we’re going to be seeing...
The sun rises over Hutchinson’s new solar PV project, the largest on a landfill in Minnesota, and the first ballast-mounted on a brownfield. Hutchinson’s wastewater treatment facility, the recipient of the array’s electricity, can be seen in the background
Dan Thiede
Tue, 08/09/2016 - 2:34pm
EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative (RE-Powering) encourages the revitalization and reuse of current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites through the development of renewable energy projects, when such development is aligned with a community’s vision for the site. In this way, communities can expand their energy portfolio, make dormant or under-utilized sites productive, and boost their local economy. To learn more about RE-Powering, CERTs interviewed Adam Klinger, who runs the initiative for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. Why should people consider siting renewable energy projects on contaminated lands?   Adam Klinger: Siting renewable energy projects on formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites allows communities to make lands with limited...
SolSmart Program
Brian Ross
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...
Lissa Pawlisch
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...

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