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Thu, 06/05/2014 - 3:51pm
There is scholarship funding available to participate in the Regional Indicators Initiative – Apply by July 3. Over 20 Minnesota cities currently participate in the Regional Indicators Initiative (RII), and new participants are being accepted. The Regional Indicators Initiative measures annual performance metrics for Minnesota cities interested in increasing efficiency and sustainability. The total cost to collect and report data for 2008 – 2012 data is $3,000 and a limited amount of funding is available to provide competitive matching scholarships to a few communities. We expect to award scholarships to 3 – 6 cities on a competitive basis. Preference will be given to applicants that meet three or more of the following criteria: GreenStep Cities participant Community-wide population under 25,000 Located in Greater Minnesota Interest in setting community-wide...
Wed, 06/04/2014 - 11:45am
Municipalities and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) are facing dramatic increases in rooftop solar permit applications. With this trend expected to continue and spread, streamlining building and electrical permitting processes will become increasingly important to more AHJs. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability U.S.A. and IREC present a series of webinars on solar permitting and inspection. The series will review the components of rooftop solar permitting processes, and share best practices and tools for improving them. These webinars are free, but you must register to attend. The upcoming webinars will be held on June 26 and August 27 from 1:00p-2:00pm CST. These webinars will be targeted at municipal permit review staff and inspectors, but should be useful to a diverse...
Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:02am
Story by USDA Rural Development. Tara Kraft, owner of Colonial Cleaners and Laundromat in Worthington, MN, has replaced all of her “employees” over the last couple of years – over 90 to be exact. See, Tara considers her washers and dryers employees, and she has been upgrading her equipment to more energy efficient models. Although she doesn’t have to compensate her employees as your average business owner might, the old washers and dryers “ate” a lot – a lot of energy that is. Kraft’s 45 new washers and dryers totaling over $500,000, use less water, natural gas and electricity. As a result, the new units are far more efficient in their work, allowing customers to get their laundry done in less time. Kraft used a $10,510 REAP grant to assist in the upgrade of some of the dryer units. “The REAP Program is a great help to small business like ours,” said Kraft. “The savings on...
Environmental Assistance Grants Program: includes possibility of $100,000 in grants for GreenStep Cities
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 12:01pm
On May 12, 2014, with the publication of the Request for Proposals (RFP) Notice in the State Register, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has officially announced the opening of the Fiscal Years (FY) 2014-2015 Environmental Assistance (EA) Grant Program for applications. Approximately $1 million is available for EA grant awards to provide financial assistance for researching, developing, or implementing projects and practices related to all aspects of waste management and prevention including hazardous substances, toxic pollutants, and problem materials. Additionally, market development and education grants are also allowed. The MPCA seeks to encourage environmentally-sustainable practices and approaches to pollution prevention and resource conservation. Eligible applicants, grant award amounts and minimum matching fund requirements will vary by Focus Areas and Preferred...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 2:48pm
Are you on delivered fuels and looking for a way to supplement your winter heating needs? Or perhaps you’re just ready to transition to renewable energy? Solar thermal may be a good fit… and better yet there are rebates to help buy down the cost for those systems. Read on for details! What’s the rebate? Solar thermal energy is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat). A Made-In-Minnesota Rebate Program is available in Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power Company, and Xcel Energy territory for people who install solar thermal systems made by certified solar thermal system manufacturers and installed by a factory authorized solar thermal installer. For the purposes of the Made in Minnesota program, a “Solar Thermal System” means a flat plate or evacuated tube with a fixed orientation that collects the sun’s radiant energy and...
Department of Commerce issues RFPs for funding opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy
Mon, 05/19/2014 - 1:28pm
There are three separate opportunities currently open through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Two of them are for Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) projects, and the third is for combined heat and power (CHP) support. Please look closely at deadlines as some of these RFPs have quick turnarounds. Good luck! CARD Grant RFP for projects in nine specific topic areas The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources seeks proposals from organizations or individuals interested in conducting applied research and development projects in nine specific topic areas: Survey and Analysis of Minnesota Municipal and Cooperative Utility Programs Statewide Policy Analysis and Evaluation of Low-Income Programs in Minnesota Utility CIP Portfolios Behavioral Programs Literature Review and Benchmarking Study...
Students from Westbrook Walnut Grove Public Schools Benchmark City's Buildings with B3 Energy Benchmarking System
Mon, 05/12/2014 - 5:00pm
The Youth Energy Summit (YES!) Team Westbrook-Walnut Grove Public Schools entered building and utility data into the B3 Energy Benchmarking System for ten buildings in the City of Westbrooke to learn about energy use, as well as help the city better track energy use and utility costs in public buildings. The YES! Team is a group of nine motivated students that are interested in creating community environmental and economic vitality through hands on projects, so B3 Energy Benchmark data entry was the perfect project.The B3 Energy Benchmarking System is a State administered program to benchmark public buildings in the State of Minnesota. The B3 Energy Benchmarking system is free for government entities to use that compares public building benchmarks throughout Minnesota and generates reports to help public entities better understand energy use within buildings. Learn more about B3 and...
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 10:00am
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems. “Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Landkamer said. “This funding will help rural small business owners, farmers and ranchers incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent. When small rural businesses and farmers cut their energy costs with cleaner and more efficient energy, we are both helping their bottom lines and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.” The funding announced today is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program...
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 4:01pm
Are you looking for a financing tool that helps for-profit businesses do energy efficiency retrofits on their property? Property Assessed Clean Energy, (or PACE for short) have the answers you’re looking for! PACE allows property owners to borrow money from newly established municipal financing districts to finance energy retrofits (energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades) and repay the loan through an annual special tax on their property bill. The premise of the program is that the business does not see a decrease in net profits—and once the loan is repaid, the business realizes the savings on their operating costs. Find the answers you’re looking for, including program objectives and requirements Property Assessed Clean Energy brochure about PACE. PACE...
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 2:19pm
Minnesota Cities at the League of Minnesota Cities recently had a discussion with Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities program coordinator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to learn more about the initiative. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program cities can join to help them improve their Earth-friendly efforts in a cost-effective way. Minnesota Cities: How did the idea for the GreenStep Cities program come about, and when did the program take off? Philipp Muessig: Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) held regional listening sessions around the state in 2007 to discuss community-based energy opportunities and the state’s Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The idea was raised by Bob McLean of Hunt Utilities Group in Pine River to create a sustainable cities program that would, like...
Thu, 04/24/2014 - 2:13pm
Both homeowners and renters can benefit from home improvements that promote energy efficiency and improve indoor air quality. Raising the bar on air quality and energy performance at home helps reduce heating and cooling costs, saves energy, and improves occupant health and comfort. To help consumers better understand the strategies and product options available to them, HUD’s (Housing and Urban Development) Office of Policy Development and Research has developed the Guide to Energy-Efficient and Healthy Homes. The Guide is a new section of their website that provides concise descriptions in an easy-to-navigate format. Adopting energy-efficiency measures can also reduce both a home’s carbon footprint and the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. This guide...
Fri, 04/18/2014 - 2:17pm
In support of the country’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the Energy Department announced yesterday $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses. The United States continues to be a global leader in solar, with total U.S. solar energy installations reaching 13 gigawatts last year. As the cost of solar energy continues to decline, more states and local communities are deploying solar energy projects to meet their electricity needs. “As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz...
Wed, 04/09/2014 - 2:59pm
CERTs Co-Director Joel Haskard spoke with Xcel Energy’s Senior Product Portfolio Manager Steve Mudd to get an update on Xcel Energy’s Windsource program. Joel Haskard: Tell me a little about the Windsource program and how it is doing in Minnesota to date. Steve Mudd: Windsource is Xcel Energy’s leading voluntary green power program, enabling our customers to purchase renewable energy that’s generated in excess of the company’s other state mandates. We currently have 20 wind farms that are dedicated or semi-dedicated to supply the energy that our customers purchase. Over 33,000 Minnesota homes and 264 businesses purchased 170,185 MWh of renewable energy from Windsource in 2013. In 2013, Windsource had two significant milestones: We celebrated our 1 Billionth kilowatt-hour of sales in Minnesota. The feat was illustrated by a...
Fri, 04/04/2014 - 4:41pm
Finance upgrades in public buildings throughout your city utilizing the savings in wastewater treatment plant upgrades! This webinar recording will teach you the basics behind Minnesota’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP). GESP is a state administered technical assistance program to finance upgrades in public buildings through energy performance contracting. More info at http://mncerts.org/gesp About the Local Government Energy Action Series: This effort tells the stories of Minnesota municipalities, counties, and schools and the tangible results of their energy-saving efforts to inspire others to take their own actions. See all stories in this series >>
Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:00am
The 3rd Annual Heating the Midwest Conference will be held from April 30th to May 1st, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Keynote speakers will include regional and national leaders in biomass energy. “Each year, this event brings together leaders of the woody and agricultural biomass industry,” said Brian Brashaw, Program Director for the University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute and Chair of the Heating the Midwest Steering Committee. “The businesses and organizations that come together are interested in supporting and expanding the use of biomass for heat and power in the region.” Keynote speakers confirmed for the conference include, Scott Nichols, President of Tarm Biomass who will address Midwest Biomass Thermal Energy: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead. Tarm Biomass is based in New Hampshire and deals in the latest wood energy...
Solar Powered Pigs a Hit at Loon Lake Event: Powered by Sun, Little Porkers Run Faster, Are Cuter than Regular Pigs
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Tue, 04/01/2014 - 11:04am
Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Loon Lake, MN – Over 40 people gathered at a Central Region Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT) event at John Smith’s farm outside of Loon Lake to see his latest invention and livestock—solar-powered pigs. Twice as cute and fast as normal-powered pigs, these sun-powered porkers are the latest technology to hit the Central MN Region. “We call them Sun Swine, and their energy efficiency is just incredible, “says Farmer Smith. “We wanted to give folks the opportunity to come out and ‘kick their little legs,’ see how they function on sunny and cloudy days.” “CERTs works with communities across Minnesota to identify and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and to enjoy the savory taste of bacon if they so choose,” says Sarah Hayden, Central Region CERT Coordinator. “We hope that solar swine like these will reduce energy costs and help utilities...
Tue, 03/25/2014 - 4:30pm
Blue Earth County has demonstrated in two of its Mankato buildings that even energy efficient buildings can be tapped for additional energy savings. Lighting motion detectors for the Courthouse and Government Center were only the latest of a long and successful list of efforts by Blue Earth County to save energy in its buildings. ENERGY STAR® certification brings recognition to two Blue Earth County buildings with improved energy performance by recommissioning existing equipment and upgrading the HVAC system and the lighting equipment. Nearly a decade ago, the Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners had a vision to work with local vendors to make updates to the historic courthouse—built in 1889—with the aim of enhancing energy efficiency and saving taxpayer dollars. As a result of these efforts, the Blue Earth County Courthouse was awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 12:20pm
Applications for the Made in Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate Program reopened on Monday, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced. The solar thermal program accepted applications this year from January 1-February 28, but the program was not fully subscribed. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until 2014 funds are fully reserved. Rebate Program details: The rebate program, which is part of the 10-year, $150 million Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program that began this year, is for customers of electric investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power). Rebates are available to commercial and residential property owners who install solar thermal systems using collectors certified as Made in Minnesota. The rebate is equal to 25 percent of the system installed cost up to a maximum of $2,500 for...
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 11:34am
The Solar Powering Minnesota conference held March 7, 2014 at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul was a huge success. The sold-out event brought together more than 350 people—utilities, policy makers, lenders, developers & contractors, local governments, and training & workforce development professionals—to talk about 2013 legislative outcomes, financing, incentives, utility programs, permitting, storage, and community solar gardens, and much more. We’re pleased to share presentations and a ton of great photos from the event! Click here to download presentations >>
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 10:10am
A decision this week by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission soon could change the way Minnesotans get credited for the solar energy they produce. The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt a Minnesota Department of Commerce-developed method of calculating the value of solar energy. The method soon could be used by public utilities, such as Xcel Energy, to determine a value-of-solar tariff — a new rate that would be used to credit its solar-energy-producing customers. The new methodology is expected to be formalized by April 1 with a written decision by the commission. No other state in the country has a formal methodology for determining the value of solar energy. “I am very pleased the Public Utilities Commission approved our department’s Value of Solar Methodology, making Minnesota the first state in the nation to take this big step forward —...