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Westbrook-Walnut Grove YES! students helping to install a wind turbine at their school
Aleta Kolan
Wed, 10/16/2013 - 1:56pm
Driving through rural Minnesota you are apt to see impressive displays of renewable energy: wind farms, solar arrays, and ethanol plants come to mind. Additional efforts to promote renewable energy and energy conservation have been popping up in rural Minnesota communities thanks to Youth Energy Summit (YES!) teams. YES!, a program partnership between Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC), is a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and issues in rural Minnesota communities. This past school year half of the 32 YES! teams chose to work on projects directly related to renewable energy and energy conservation. Several of these teams decided to pursue solar projects last school year. The...
Redwood Area Development Corporation Website
Annette Bair
Tue, 10/15/2013 - 4:13pm
The Redwood Area Development Corporation (RADC) developed a new website with a renewable energy portal on the homepage. Julie Rath with RADC is excited about the new site and content: “Having the portal right on the homepage will open up opportunities for citizens and businesses to find easier access to the tool they need for their own projects, energy rebates, funding sources, etc.” Posting of actual stories and the energy portal have helped to increase the awareness of CERTs, the GreenStep Cities Program, and other energy-related programs that communities and residents may not have been aware of. Along with the energy portal, postings on Facebook and Twitter have been highlighting energy projects in Redwood County. This marketing of information will help to spark interest in these initiatives and help to promote energy conservation in southwest Minnesota. “I know the website is...
Raising awareness among community members
Annette Bair
Thu, 10/03/2013 - 9:24am
Everyone would like to save money on utility bills, and most people want to conserve our natural resources, right? Well, in Southwest Minnesota, what initially started as an effort to raise awareness among tenants, management, and community members about the importance of the responsible use of natural resources such as energy and water turned out to make connections among generations. A partnership involving the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP), Southwest CERTs, AmeriCorps VISTA Program, and the Westbrook/ Walnut Grove YES! Team was started to validate the importance of conserving energy and water. Twenty-four apartment properties owned by the SWMHP were targeted to demonstrate strategies for efficient usage of energy and water in order to lower costs of utility bills. The YES! Team installed low-flow aerators on the faucets and tested the lavatories for leaks. A...
Increase awareness of career, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities
Aleta Kolan
Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:00am
For students like Kimberly Colgan, participating in the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) program is a life-changing experience. “YES! has definitely impacted my college and career plans. I am now pursuing a degree in industrial process engineering (looking at processes to reduce waste) and I hope to work in a recycling facility to help improve cost and efficiency so that we can recycle as much as possible,” says Colgan, a YES! student and recent graduate from Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. One of the goals of the YES! program is to increase awareness of career, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities. YES!, a program partnership between Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC), is a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and...
Stacey Pederson
Dan Thiede
Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:03pm
Stacey Pederson is the new Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Communications Assistant with the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and Extension. She decided to become more involved with CERTs after attending the 2013 CERTs Conference. Over the course of the past summer, Stacey has worked with Twin Cities Local Food, distributing fresh, locally-grown food to customers. Stacey is a student at Dakota County Technical College and will earn an Associate’s degree in Business Marketing in the spring of 2014. Currently Stacey is a member of the American Marketing Association, and is serving as president of the Dakota County Technical College chapter. In her free time, Stacey enjoys sewing reusable napkins and grocery bags for friends and family. Cool! Feel free to drop her a line: Stacey Pederson CERTs Communications Assistant University of...
Local Government Innovation Awards
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 09/20/2013 - 9:33am
Are you a school, city, or county that has been innovating to improve services or reduce the cost of local government? If so, share your innovation for a chance to win $10,000 and a professional video highlighting your effort! The Local Government Innovation Awards—sponsored in partnership between the Humphrey School’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Board Association—recognize the creative ways counties, cities, and schools are making Minnesota better and doing things differently. All types of local government innovation are encouraged to enter. Through a partnership with the University’s Center for Integrative Leadership this year, the Awards are particularly interested in surfacing innovations involving cross-sector or cross-systems collaborations. In keeping with...
Thermostat display in the Energy House at the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience | Photo by MPCA
Diana McKeown
Wed, 09/11/2013 - 2:05pm
As I staffed the Energy House at the Minnesota State Fair’s Eco-Experience, I got a bit more familiar with the Nest Thermostat, which is a smart thermostat developed mostly by former Apple employees. Below you will find some useful information about how a device like this can save you gobs of energy without having to constantly set/change your settings, because it learns your habits as it gets to know you.   Basics about the Nest thermostat: What’s the advantage of the Nest over a basic programmable thermostat? The ideal candidates for owing a Nest are the 70% of households who currently have a programmable thermostat, and NEVER PROGRAM IT! When you say that to folks, nearly everyone says, “Yeah, ours isn’t programmed—too many buttons and screens…” Where can you buy them? Amazon.com, Best Buy, Apple Stores, Lowe’s, Home Depot,...
SolarPod
Joel Haskard
Wed, 09/11/2013 - 1:20pm
Menards, one of the largest home improvement chains in the world, will begin selling SolarPod solar photovoltaic (PV) systems this month. SolarPod is manufactured by Mouli Engineering. Inc., a company based in Eagan, Minnesota. “Menards has worked extensively in evaluating Mouli Engineering’s SolarPod products. SolarPod installations from Pennsylvania to California add significant confidence to us. Their approaches of simple design, affordable cost, and grow-as-you-go solar appeals to us and our customer base. Menards is always looking for innovative products such as the SolarPod to enhance our renewable energy market, improve the Menards brand and experience, and broaden our service to customers,” said Curt Carlson, Buyer at Menards in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The SolarPod products are expected to sell through the Menards website at http://www....
National Plug-In Electric Day at the Capitol
Joel Haskard
Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:32pm
National Plug-In Vehicle Day is on Saturday, September 28th, and folks from the Twin Cities and beyond will be heading to the Capitol to see the cars and learn more. We caught up with Jukka Kukkonen, owner of PlugInConnect, LLC—an EV market and technologies consulting company in Minnesota—for the details and thoughts for those interested in owning a car. See the interview below, and click here to get event details. Joel Haskard: What will people see if they come to the Twin Cities National Plug-In Vehicle Day on Saturday, September 28th at the State Capitol? Jukka Kukkonen: Many people are now considering purchasing or leasing a plug-in vehicle (PEV), and this event is designed to give them a rare opportunity to see all the different models and colors and option combinations in one place. Attendees will also...
Making Energy Local from MPR's Ground Level project
Joel Haskard
Tue, 09/10/2013 - 10:49am
Minnesota Public Radio’s Ground Level project kicked off a new series on Making Energy Local this week. From the opening article: “Whether they want to be forward thinking, save money on energy or cut their greenhouse emissions, some Minnesota communities are trying different ways to generate power.” Reporter Jennifer Vogel will be talking about what she’s found this afternoon on All Things Considered and reporters Dan Kraker and Stephanie Hemphill will be on the air Wednesday...

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