Southwest Blog Posts

MN Energy Stories Blog
Bringing you news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state. Tell your story.

Get AnswersGet Answers
Stories to help you
get to the bottom of
your energy questions
  Local Government Energy ActionLocal Government Energy Action
Stories highlighting the
energy-saving efforts of
cities, counties & schools
  Subscribe to digest
Receive stories
in your inbox
Share:

Main Street Repeats Thrift Store
Annette Fiedler
Thu, 05/26/2016 - 7:23am
If you are in Good Thunder (pop. 583) looking for a fun thrift store to update your home décor, stop into Main Street Repeats. Owners George and Maureen Spear not only have great deals awaiting the discerning customer, they also know a great deal when they see one: they recently upgraded their lights to LEDs using the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Located in Blue Earth County, Main Street Repeats recently worked with the Southwest Regional Development Commission utilize PACE. After an energy audit performed by Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), the LED lighting project was going to cost $9,980. They wisely turned to their electric utility, Xcel Energy, to claim the $1,728 in lighting rebates, knocked the price down to $8,252. According...
Quantity Quotes
Joel Haskard
Thu, 05/26/2016 - 6:44am
Quantity Quotes, a free online marketplace for competitive quotes on EPA’s Water Sense and ENERGY STAR products (light bulbs, faucet aerators, showerheads, pre-rinse sprayers, and more). It was developed by the Department of Energy and is now managed by a local government agency in California, Stop Waste. We talked to our own Alexis Troschinetz to find out more. How does Quantity Quotes work? Alexis: It is a portal for buyers and suppliers to meet. You create a profile, fill out a form for the type of product you would like, and then a message automatically goes out to all the vendors that provide that product. You have your own message board in the portal, where you’ll watch for individual messages from each vendor with draft quotes for that product. Who can use Quantity Quotes?   Alexis Troschinetz: Really,...
USDA
Fritz Ebinger
Tue, 05/24/2016 - 6:57am
USDA Rural Development State Director recently announced funding to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems. “This funding will allow local rural small businesses and ag producers the opportunity to invest in improvements that will reduce energy usage or use energy more efficiently,” Landkamer said. “It also empowers rural America to pave the way to our nation’s energy independence.” Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) will receive a $70,060 grant to assist approximately 67 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Southwestern Minnesota by coordinating and promoting energy audits in over 18 counties through its Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Energy Audit Assistance program. Energy audits can help recipients determine the most effective ways to...
Nest Smart Programmable Thermostat
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 04/15/2016 - 1:34pm
With tax day, it’s no wonder that Minnesota and the nation recognize April as Financial Capability Month. It’s a great reminder for us that one of the best ways to save money is by saving energy! There are many basic no- and low-cost measures you can take to reduce energy use, cutting your utility bill and putting more money in your pocket. Here are a few energy- and money-saving opportunities: Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs. Turn off computers and monitors when not in use. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use. Turn off lights and fans when nobody’s in the room. Close your fireplace damper when not in...
lettuce happily growing in a deep winter greenhouse
Greg Schweser
Thu, 04/07/2016 - 12:06am
Interested in experimenting with the University of Minnesota on passive solar greenhouse technology on your farm, community organization, or business in Greater Minnesota? Do you want to learn how to grow crops all year without relying on fossil fuels? Are you interested in helping others learn about sustainable agricultural production technology for year-round production? If so, then the University of Minnesota Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships want to help you build a deep winter greenhouse. These greenhouses are a passive solar, low-cost, low-carbon winter food production system. The structure is built with a south-facing, angled glazing wall that captures heat from the sun. Heat is stored in an underground rock bed and dissipates into the above-ground planting area at night...
MREA solar training
Lissa Pawlisch
Wed, 04/06/2016 - 11:49pm
The Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) honors Steve Hansen, a brilliant educator who taught thousands of students in Wisconsin about the importance of renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and earth stewardship. The Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor his spirit and memory, and to help the next generation carry on his important work. It is designed to assist students who are interested in attending college, technical college, or other training courses to study renewable energy, energy efficiency, or sustainable living topics. Scholarships are awarded to students who reside in the Midwest (WI, MN, MI, IA, IL, IN, OH, MO). Students should possess a clear goal of desiring to make her or his community, environment, or world a better...
SMMPA utilities involved in CERTs community outreach
Joel Haskard
Wed, 03/30/2016 - 1:52pm
How much energy could you save just by giving business owners a face-to-face reminder of the available rebates from their local utility? CERTs and the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) decided to find out. The Plan: Over the course of 19 months, CERTs staff visited 15 of SMMPA’s 18 member municipal utilities to increase awareness about their rebate programs. CERTs went door to door across the communities speaking with the local businesses and provided each business with a letter of introduction from the SMMPA Energy Service Representatives (ESR), a letter opener that included the ESR’s contact information, a list of current rebates, a CERTs Right Light Guide customized for the utility, and a sign up form to receive information from the local utility via email. An effective partnership: “We started with five communities during 2014, and...
Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program
Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 03/30/2016 - 11:33am
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...
CEE Lending Center now offering a solar loan
Joel Haskard
Thu, 03/24/2016 - 4:57pm
Interest in solar energy is rapidly expanding in Minnesota, and many homeowners are looking for good ways to pay for solar installations. Traditional financing options are not always a great fit for renewable energy systems, but a Minnesota organization has a new solar-specific program. We spoke with Lending Manager Jim Hasnik to learn more about Center for Energy and Environment Lending Center’s new Solar Loan. Tell us a little bit about your Solar Financing program.   Jim Hasnik: We’re excited to provide a new Residential Solar PV Loan Program for Minnesota residents. The Solar Loan from the CEE Lending Center is a financing resource specifically designed for residential solar implementation. We worked closely with local solar providers to create a program that helps homeowners bridge the gaps between up...
AESP Midwest Chapter
Joel Haskard
Thu, 03/17/2016 - 3:40pm
The Association of Energy Service Professionals, or AESP, is the premier organization for professionals dedicated to improving the delivery and implementation of energy efficiency, energy management, and distributed renewable resources. AESP members have one thing in common—the desire to advance their professional growth and development through acquiring current practical knowledge and building their network in the energy field. We spoke with Paul Bertucci of Franklin Energy, the current president of the AESP Midwest Chapter, to learn more.   Why should someone consider becoming an AESP Midwest Chapter member?   Paul Bertucci: If you work in or with a utility, if you are working in the energy services world, if you work in the energy efficiency or renewable energy fields…Join us! It is an...
Worker with South Central Electric installs their new solar array. Photo by Trevor Cokley
Dan Thiede
Thu, 03/17/2016 - 9:08am
Dan Linehan with the Mankato Free Press recently published a great article about solar development in south-central Minnesota and the opportunities that landowners and local governments are finding. Excerpt: When John Frey of Mankato received an inquiry about putting a solar array on his land, he didn’t need to be persuaded on the merits. Renewable energy was already his sole focus after retiring as a dean at Minnesota State University. Solar power, he said, is a virtual requirement if we’re to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. When 40 acres of solar panels go up on his rural Lake Crystal land, perhaps this May, he’ll be looking at it as part of a global solution to climate change. In south-central Minnesota, landowners are seeing new...
Tim Rudnicki
Wed, 03/09/2016 - 4:28pm
Minnesota’s ethanol industry contributed $2.13 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2015, according to a new study by ABF Economics out this week. The study, commissioned by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, said the industry generated $7.37 billion in gross sales in 2015 for Minnesota businesses. This, in turn, generated $1.6 billion worth of income for Minnesota households, supported 18,116 full-time jobs in the state and contributed $93 million to state and local taxes last year. “The ethanol industry continues to be a significant contributor to Minnesota’s economy and is vital to continued economic growth in the state,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota...
Janet Streff kicking off the CERTs 2013 Conference
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 2:13pm
It might be hard to measure Janet Streff’s impact in BTUs saved, clean energy megawatts generated, or carbon emissions reduced. But it’s clear that the State Energy Office manager of the past 17 years has been a true champion of energy policies and programs that have greatly benefited Minnesota—and that rank with the nation’s best. Streff will retire on March 4 after 20 years of public service. “Janet has been the consummate professional, and no one has been a better advocate for energy efficiency and renewable energy over the past 20 years,” said Bill Grant, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, who oversees the Energy Division. “She has led an exemplary clean energy agenda and has been vital in implementing Minnesota’s energy policies and programs. As she leaves, our state is poised to meet or exceed its ambitious clean energy and energy-saving goals.”...
Wind turbines over a Minnesota corn field
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:46pm
Looks like we’re on pace to exceed Renewable Energy Standard of 25% by 2025! Minnesota generated 21 percent of its electricity from renewable energy in 2015, up from just six percent a decade ago, putting the state well on pace to exceed its Renewable Energy Standard of 25 percent by 2025, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Renewable energy includes wind, solar, hydro and biomass. “Minnesota’s commitment to renewable energy is showing clear results,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Since 2005, Minnesota’s electric power generated from renewal sources has more than tripled. We have reduced our dependence on polluting coal that must be imported from outside the state, while increasing our own clean energy made right here in Minnesota. It’s a tremendous benefit for our energy sector, our economy and jobs, and our environment.” In 2007, Minnesota...
LED lighting on Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis | Credit: Joe Ferrer/Getty Images
Annette Fiedler
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 11:40am
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is undertaking a statewide lighting conversion project and saving some money along the way. The project involves converting more than 28,500 roadway lights from traditional high-pressure sodium to LED or light emitting diode technology. The conversion includes replacing the light fixtures and bulbs. “Drivers will see whiter light, but the biggest impacts will be a large reduction in the energy bill and eliminating the cost of bulb replacement every four years,” said Michael Gerbensky, signal design and lighting management engineer for MnDOT’s Twin Cities’ Metro area. “This means having our maintenance personnel out on the roadway less often, which reduces traffic control costs and it means improved safety. That savings can go to preserving our roadways.” MnDOT expects that average annual savings in energy costs will be up to $1.45 million...
Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN
Annette Fiedler
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 8:14am
Updated March 7, 2016 with indoor lighting project details. 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...
Nissan Leaf Bulk Buy for MN
Joel Haskard
Fri, 03/04/2016 - 11:18am
Consumers in the market for a new electric vehicle (EV) will be eligible for a special offer from Kline Nissan during the month of March. In partnership with Drive Electric Minnesota, consumers can request a voucher to save nearly 40 percent off the suggested retail price of a Nissan Leaf, when coupled with a federal tax credit. “We are excited to be able to offer consumers a way to significantly reduce the purchase price of a 2016 Leaf SV, said Adam Bazille of Kline Nissan. “The range is now 107 miles, 27 percent more than the base model and all 2015 models.” Interested consumers will need to request a voucher at http://www.driveelectricmn.org between March 1st-31st and bring the voucher into Kline Nissan to begin the EV purchase process. The voucher is only valid during the month of March....
REAP grant recipients in Minnesota
Fritz Ebinger
Thu, 02/18/2016 - 7:09am
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer announced this month that USDA is awarding five grants to help Minnesota rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. Funding comes from the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) and will go towards energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems. She also wants to remind Minnesotans that another deadline for REAP is coming up on May 2, 2016. Read on to learn more! “This funding will help implement energy-saving measures that help rural small business owners and agricultural producers remain competitive in an increasing global marketplace by allowing them to save on operational costs and contribute to their bottom line,”...
MN Dept. of Commerce
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 02/16/2016 - 11:12am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce today announced grants for nine research and development projects that will help Minnesota consumers and businesses save energy, cut utility bills and reduce carbon dioxide pollution. The grants, totaling $1,982,110, are funded by the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program and administered through the statewide Conservation Improvement Program. “Energy savings pay big dividends, helping Minnesota consumers and businesses save money, grow our economy and achieve our state’s energy and environmental goals,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “These innovative projects will help maximize energy efficiency in commercial buildings, farms, new construction and much more.” The CARD Grant Program was developed as part...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 02/10/2016 - 10:04am
The number of solar jobs in Minnesota more than doubled during the past two years and, thanks to solar-friendly state and federal policies, the job surge is expected to continue, according to the 2015 Minnesota Solar Jobs Census from The Solar Foundation, Minnesota Department of Commerce, and BW Research Partnership. The Census, compiled by The Solar Foundation and funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, reports that Minnesota added 1,131 solar workers between 2013 and 2015, a 131 percent increase. Nearly 2,000 Minnesotans are currently employed statewide in solar-related jobs that include manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development and installation. Solar employers project a 20 percent increase in solar workers for Minnesota in 2016. “This is fantastic news for Minnesota, and...

Pages

Subscribe to Southwest Blog Posts

Minnesotans building a clean energy future

         

    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission