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Community center is Chisago City’s ‘dream come true’
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 05/07/2013 - 1:58pm
Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) enables extensive energy upgrade: When Chisago City purchased 70 acres of beautiful lakefront property just south of town in 2006, the acquisition presented a great opportunity. Not only did it allow Chisago City to establish Ojiketa Regional Park, it offered the chance to provide a community center long desired by the town. Strom Hall, the largest building on the property, was pegged as the future Strom Hall Community Center. It was a structurally sound, handsome 7,000-square-foot building built in the 1960s; it served for years as the main lodge of Campfire USA’s Camp Ojiketa before being sold. But Strom Hall had all the original windows, doors, furnaces, hot water heaters and appliances, so it needed refurbishing in order to comfortably and efficiently host events year-round. It was not sustainable unless extensive energy upgrades...
St. John’s installs building automation system
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 05/06/2013 - 11:16am
State ARRA-funded C&I grant helps fund building retrofit: St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood is constantly seeking ways to improve its infrastructure in the most cost-effective ways. And when the stimulus-funded Commercial and Industrial Grant Program from the Minnesota Department of Commerce came along, it made energy efficiency easy. St. John’s Hospital received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems. The grant, combined with other energy improvements financed by the St. Paul Port Authority and the Trillion Btu Program, will save St. John’s about $200,000 per year in energy costs. Simple payback for the $1 million project is about five years. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our infrastructure—to improve clinical quality, increase...
Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will help keep your house cool in the summer and allow sun to shine through the windows in the winter. | Graphic DOE
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:41am
Minnesota’s climate is anything but mild—from toasty hot summers to bitterly cold winters. To help save on your home’s energy and water use, follow these landscaping tips: If your house struggles to keep cool in the summer: Plant bushes or trees along the South wall. By blocking the suns rays for most of the day you will stop any excessive heating. However, keep in mind these same bushes will also block the sun in the wintery months. For a less extreme option, consider planting vines along the South wall. If your house struggles to stay warm in the winter: Creating a natural wind block may be the way to go. Planting bushes, shrubs, or trees on the North/Northwest perimeter of your house or lot will help reduce the same windchill effect that happens on exposed skin from happening to your house. Dense evergreen trees and bushes are an...
Clean Tech Open
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:20am
Do you know an emerging clean energy company that could use some help to achieve commercial success? The experience and training available through the collaborative efforts of the Minnesota Cup and Cleantech Open programs may give them the advantage they need to succeed. The Minnesota Cup and Midwest Cleantech Open have signed a cooperative agreement so that entrepreneurs participating in Minnesota Cup now have access to certain benefits of the Cleantech Open program. Entrepreneurs working with one can better benefit from both. The Minnesota Cup and Midwest Cleantech Open are now accepting applications from entrepreneurs seeking to transform their vision into a commercial success. Minnesota entrepreneurs seeking help to commercialize their idea have until May 17 to apply to Minnesota Cup. Minnesota Cup is free to enter and invites entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses...
Center for Energy and Environment breaks down Minnesota's efficiency plain and simple
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:11am
Solar, wind, and geothermal are great—but using less energy from the start is a fantastic way to save energy. Efficiency (from household appliances to commercial HVAC systems) involves making as little energy as possible do as much as possible. Want to know how Minnesota is doing with efficiency? Take a gander at a new infographic from the Center for Energy and Environment below. You can click here to view the original post from CEE.
Minnesota Department of Commerce
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 9:43am
Twelve Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grants have been awarded by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) from last year’s request for proposals (RFP). Over $2.3 million in grants were awarded in three different funding topics identified in the RFP: Field Testing of New Technologies; Testing or Demonstration of Innovative Program Implementation Strategies; White Papers Addressing Specific Problems, Underutilized Opportunities or Potential for Pioneering Technologies or Concepts. Grant projects were chosen from among 64 proposals submitted by the May 7, 2012 deadline. Subjects for the grants are varied and range from a project that will analyze Minnesota’s current net metering rules and standby rates in relation to CHP opportunities, to a project which will deploy and field test an advanced heat recovery system for large...
Solar PV at Squash Blossom Farm in Altura, MN
Joel Haskard
Mon, 04/22/2013 - 11:28am
The US Department of Agriculture announced their Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant application recently. These grants can pay for up to 25% of the eligible costs of a renewable energy project. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of funding and implement your renewable energy and/or energy efficiency projects in the Minnesota. The deadline is now May 31, 2013. What’s available? USDA Rural Development has recently been made aware of access to additional funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) which will increase the 2013 funding from approximately $20 million to $60 million. What are the deadlines? The application deadline for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Improvement (REEI) and Feasibility Study grants has been extended from April 30, 2013 to May 31, 2013 to facilitate the spending of these additional funds. The application...
Minnesota Family Energy FACE-OFF
Dan Thiede
Thu, 04/18/2013 - 4:14pm
From Earth Day 2012 to Earth Day 2013, two Minnesota families and hundreds of their teammates have been competing in the Family Energy FACE-OFF to see who can save more energy. This community-based energy competition was launched in a partnership between the Minnesota-based, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and the University of Minnesota Morris, Office of Sustainability. The two teams are the Mill Pond Minimizers, led by Jeff Vetsch, Anne Dybsetter, and their children Henry (age 5) and Hazel (2) from New London, MN; and the Prairie Penny Pinchers, led by Troy, Jenn, and Ely (4) Goodnough from Morris, MN. The families are pitted against each other, taking actions to conserve energy and resources in their homes, and extending the competition to their communities and networks. Participants from across the country choose a family they want to join and then check off actions they...
Scholarship available to Minnesota residents in Environmental programs
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 04/16/2013 - 1:00pm
The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League awards a scholarship of up to $1,000 per year to assist students who enter or continue in an education program in Environmental Education, Environmental Law, Wildlife Management or some program whose primary focus is conservation of resources or environmental science. Qualifications: Applicant must be a Minnesota resident. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen. Applicant must be at least in his/her second year of college. Applicant must show a need for financial assistance and list other financial aid that he/she is receiving for the up coming school year. Scholarship may b used for tuition, books and transportation to the school or program. Requirements: Completed application and transcript of previous year. Written essay (limit to one typed page) on his/her philosophy of conservation and what the future holds for him...
Minnesota GreenCorps now accepting applications for host sites!
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 04/16/2013 - 10:18am
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications from organizations interested in participating as a host site for the 2013-14 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps progam and up to 28 full time members with various host sites. 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. Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00 pm on Monday May 6, 2013. Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501 ( c )(3) nonprofit organizations. Organizations may apply for...
Small Wind Conference: blowing minds across the Midwest
Kristi Loobeek
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 10:06pm
The 9th Annual Small Wind Conference will be held June 18 – 19 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center. This pivotal event brings together small wind installers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors, supply chain stakeholders, educators, public benefits program managers, site assessors and advocates, all working together to move the small wind industry forward. Organized by the Small Wind Conference, LLC, this gathering of small winds’ best minds and proponents is a source of continuing education and information as we collectively harness the wind to power homes, schools, farms, businesses, and now – transportation – a growing opportunity. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is sponsoring the first ten Minnesotans to register for a workshop on Wind Monitoring, Performance Estimation and Production Monitoring presented by WES...
Pentagon officials to visit Energy for Defense II event in the Twin Cities
Kristi Loobeek
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 12:00pm
May 1st marks an exciting day for the clean energy community of Minnesota! The 2013 Energy for Defense II event will center on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)—the world’s largest consumer and developer of power and energy solutions—and will showcase to the DoD the innovative energy solutions available in the Midwest region. The Assistant Secretary of Defense of Operational Energy Policy & Programs, the Honorable Sharon Burke, will be the keynote presenter at the 2013 Energy for Defense II event. Accompanying Burke will be Minnesota Senator Al Franken (invited) who is Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The event also includes interactive sessions about operational and facilities’ energy needs, now and for the future. This incredible event will not only feature powerful speakers, but will also provide a great opportunity...
Folks from the Central CERT Region who worked on project ideas
Joel Haskard
Wed, 04/10/2013 - 12:19pm
Folks who attended the last session of the CERTs 2013 Conference gave themselves a unique challenge. The Process: Dividing themselves into seven separate rooms according to their region of Minnesota, participants worked together for an intensive hour and a half to identify around five energy efficiency or renewable energy projects in their region that could potentially be implemented by the next CERTs Conference in February 2015. The Projects: CERTs supports clean energy projects—energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects—that are in the public sphere (not policy). With this in mind, participants came up with a wide range of projects. Some of the ideas were broad and needed additional definition, others were fairly specific. Below are several examples from each region! What’s Next? CERTs staff, steering...
Solar Home
Alexis Troschinetz
Wed, 04/10/2013 - 12:18pm
Announcements, Announcements! Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are available for two interesting opportunities for clean energy service providers! Deadline: The deadline for submitting both proposals is April 22, 2013. Opportunity #1: Professional Engineering Services for Development of Standardized Tables Characterizing Residential Solar Installations RFP The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources is requesting proposals for technical services from qualified, licensed individuals or firms to complete a structural engineering analysis of residential rooftop solar energy systems to be placed on existing single and multiple family dwelling structures in Minnesota and to develop standard tables with the appropriate live and dead loads in accordance with the 2007 Minnesota Building Code. This project is intended to benefit existing residential dwellings where the...
4 old light posts were replaced with new high-pressure sodium lights outside the Dethlefs Center in Spicer.
Jeff Vetsch
Mon, 04/08/2013 - 11:30am
The city of Spicer, Minn. was being cost-conscious when city staff suggested to the City Council to move their administrative offices to unutilized space in the Dethlefs Center, a senior citizens building a few blocks away. City Administrator, Leslie Valiant, said that the south half of the Dethlefs Center was rarely used, and that by consolidating these two spaces the city would then be able to rent out the spaces formerly used as city offices. Before the city could move its offices, some remodeling had to be done. Looking for other ways to save money, the city of Spicer applied for and received an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) that was distributed by the State of Minnesota’s Department of Commerce. The total amount of the grant was $15,898 with the city of Spicer providing equal matching funds. The EECBG grant helped provide funding for three different...
Solar PV
Cleantechnica
Mon, 04/08/2013 - 10:16am
Reposted from Cleantechnica and Greentech Media with permission. Article by Shayle Kann. Last month GTM Research published a report on the U.S. residential solar financing landscape. We undertook that research partly because we perceived a general lack of understanding of both who the residential third-party ownership (TPO) companies are and how they are differentiated. This article describes the key areas in which we classify those vendors and updates our ever-growing vendor taxonomy. Prior to 2010, there were few residential TPO vendors. SolarCity and Sunrun pioneered the residential third-party financing...
Producing biocoal from biomass is a new technology that offers great benefits
Joel Haskard
Fri, 04/05/2013 - 1:31pm
There is a new kid on the block when it comes to biomass energy: torrefaction—the process of making biocoal out of biomass. Working to discover all of its advantages is Douglas G. Tiffany of the University of Minnesota and a team of partners. Currently, torrefied biomass boasts a reduction in greenhouse gasses by 85% per unit of energy substituted for coal. There is a lot to be excited about and a lot to learn. CERTs’ Co-Director, Joel Haskard, was able to interview Tiffany and get the inside scoop. Read on to see how torrefaction could be changing biomass efficiency forever! Joel Haskard: Tell me about your recent project on torrefaction. Douglas G. Tiffany: Over a year ago, I sought and received a grant from the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) to investigate the economics of torrefaction, a process of making biocoal out of biomass. Collaborating with...
Classroom in North Carolina goes 100% solar through hard work and Kickstarter backers
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 04/02/2013 - 3:05pm
“We believe in the power of the sun” was the slogan for the small, Durham, North Carolina 4th grade class that together succeed in making their classroom 100% solar photovoltaic (PV)-powered. When the class, taught by Aaron Sebens, started a Kickstarter campaign, Our Solar Powered Classroom, they could not have imagined how far the project would exceed their expectations. Originally setting their goal at raising $800, the total amount raised topped $5,800. In a short video created by the 4th graders and their teacher, the class explained why they wanted to start the project: “We believe in the sun and would like to fundraise to get enough money to buy solar panels for our classroom so we do...
Installing a solar electric fence charger to keep deer away (Photo by Pat Lefemine)
Joel Haskard
Tue, 03/26/2013 - 11:00am
One of the newest developments in the electric fence industry is the increased use of solar-powered electric fences, which are slowly taking hold in Minnesota, in part through a new statewide program. What are solar electric fence chargers, and how do they work? Like a normal electric fence, a solar-powered electric fence can be used to protect livestock, pets, or land from wildlife and pests. However, unlike normal electric lines or battery-powered fences, a solar electric fence charger use a small solar photovoltaic (PV) panel to collect and convert sunlight into energy, which is then stored in the battery so that it can charge the fence. Solar electric fence chargers need little maintenance and can work with most existing fencing systems. The Solar PV panels can produce enough energy under cloud cover to power a fence, and the storage battery can provide power to the energizers...
With the HVAC upgrade, city staff no longer need to use space heaters to keep warm in their offices.
Jeff Vetsch
Tue, 03/26/2013 - 10:58am
The City of Paynesville sensed for some time that they needed to replace their Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system in their city hall. But when the HVAC unit shook loose from the roof and crossed electrical wires, which brought smoke into the building, the project took on greater urgency. City staff had struggled to regulate the building’s temperature. The building’s over-designed, computer-controlled ventilation system wasn’t functioning properly—turning up the temperature in one zone would make temperatures unbearably cold in another. “People’s fingers and toes were turning blue,” said Paynesville City Administrator, Renee Eckerly. Staff brought in electric space heaters to place under their desks (increasing electric demand) and constantly adjusted the building’s numerous thermostats in fruitless attempts to try and balance the temperature. The staff...

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