West Central Blog Posts
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Thu, 01/23/2014 - 5:01pm
Interviewee: John D. Paulson, Environmental Specialist, City of Hutchinson Interviewer: Lindsay Wimmer, GESP Outreach Coordinator, Clean Energy Resource Teams The City of Hutchinson used an energy savings performance contract to finance and upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant and retrofit to more efficient lighting in their City Hall, Library, Liquor Store, and Recreation Center. Energy performance contracts are a turnkey implementation method to audit facilities, install upgrades, and pay for those upgrades over a period of time with the resulting savings in the operations and maintenance budgets. Further, the energy savings are guaranteed by the energy service company, and if the upgrades do not result in the determined savings, the energy service company is responsible to pay for the difference. Total Project Cost: $375,114 Guaranteed Annual Savings: $32,571 Actual Annual...
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 11:30am
CERTs Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator Alexis Troschinetz attended the 1st Annual Social of the Minnesota Building Performance Association (MBPA) in Fall 2013. More than 30 people gathered at Indeed Brewery in Minneapolis to sip the delicious brews and “talk shop.” The MPBA leadership, comprised of Rebecca Olson as President, Ross Anderson as Secretary, and John Fedora as Treasurer, gave opening remarks that gave a sense of where MBPA is headed for 2014. For those unfamiliar with MPBA, their mission is to promote safe, comfortable, durable and energy efficient homes with improved air quality, comfort, moisture control, and affordability. Their vision for MPBA is to work toward becoming THE resource for building energy information in Minnesota. To achieve this vision, they’ve set the following three goals for 2014: Increase membership: MPBA wants to...
Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:46am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that it will begin to offer rebates for solar thermal systems starting in 2014 as part of its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program for both solar electric and solar thermal. The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota” solar thermal systems in the state. The solar thermal system may be installed in residential or commercial facilities for, among other uses, hot water or space heating purposes. A solar thermal system is “Made in Minnesota” if components of the system are manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system is certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. Currently, the solar thermal systems certified for the solar thermal rebate program are available from three Minnesota companies:...
Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:20pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce the projects awarded Seed Grants in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions. Most regions awarded $20,000 worth of seed grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state. The funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. There were 34 seed grants awarded in total, across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach and community building, and research. Read on for all of the details! Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal. Since 2006, CERTs has awarded $922,500 to more than 223 projects. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs-Supported Projects page....
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:07pm
There’s been a lot of exciting action on solar energy in Minnesota in 2013. To keep the momentum going, we’d like to invite you to save the date for Solar Powering Minnesota, a conference that will take place in Saint Paul, MN on Friday, March 7, 2014. We have great news: Minh Le—the Program Manager of the Solar Energy Technologies Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy—has been confirmed as our keynote speaker to kick off the conference in the morning. Minh Le helps manage and balance the portfolio of research, development, demonstration, and deployment programs for the national SunShot Initiative. Prior to his current role at DOE, Minh spent his career in industry developing technologies and scaling new technologies to high-volume manufacturing. Minh earned his SB and SM degrees from MIT where he...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:54pm
Since the 1930s, Duluth, Minnesota, has continually drawn frigid water from Lake Superior, heated it to steam in a coal-fired boiler, then pushed that steam through a network of pipes to provide heat for downtown businesses. The city is now studying its options for modernizing the aging system to make it more flexible, economical, and sustainable. A consultant’s master plan presented Monday to the City Council recommends adding sawdust as a fuel source and converting steam lines into a more efficient, closed-loop hot water system. “If we are going to own this, we are going to bring this steam plant into the 21st century,” David Montgomery, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview. “We want to turn this into a real asset, which we think it can become, from an...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:46pm
The market share of condensing boilers, sometimes called high-efficiency boilers, has increased dramatically over the last several years, thanks in part to utility programs that provide rebates. Unfortunately, many of these newly installed condensing boilers only achieve a fraction of their expected ideal case energy savings. Center for Energy and Environment’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Russ Landry explains why, and offers solutions to optimize their performance. When a boiler burns natural gas to heat water, it produces both carbon dioxide and water vapor—which is really just diluted steam. In a conventional boiler all of this steam goes right out the chimney with most of its potential heating energy wasted: The lost heat up the flue results in an annual fuel utilization efficiency of about 80 percent for conventional boilers. In order to increase boiler...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:20pm
A total of 100 rural small business and agriculture producers in Minnesota were assisted by funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in 2013. Funding for 75 of these projects was recently announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien announced funding for the first 25 projects back in August during his visit to Minnesota to advocate for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill at Minnesota’s 2013 IDEAg Farmfest show. The 2013 REAP funding will provide $2.3 million to Minnesota-based rural small businesses and farmers who will then leverage personal funds and other incentives to construct $10 million worth of projects throughout the state. The total number of projects funded and total dollars awarded represent the second highest in the nation and reflect Minnesota’s continued success in securing REAP...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:52am
Douglas Tiffany, assistant extension professor at the University of Minnesota, discussed the economics of co-locating torrefaction, ethanol and coal power plants at the University of North Dakota on Nov. 6. “What we wanted to get an idea of was what would be the rates of return on equity for torrefaction plants and how that use of biocoal could help coal-fired power plants comply with new regulations that are hanging over their head at this time,” Tiffany said. After the cost of biomass, an independent torrefaction plant may face a production cost of $42 per finished ton, Tiffany explained. However, if the plant was able to sell a certain amount of steam and gases, the cost would be estimated at $17 per ton. “A co-located torrefaction plant where it has an opportunity to sell those gases would be enjoying 16 percent rates of return on equity versus six percent without that [...
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:52pm
The development of community solar gardens is a potentially exciting opportunity that will allow individuals to join with others in their community to advance clean energy projects. CERTs is working to develop materials and resources to help individuals and communities better understand what this opportunity does—and doesn’t—mean for them. We’re asking you to participate in a survey so that we can better understand what your needs are to make informed decisions about this emerging solar arena. We hope you’ll help! Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. If you agree to participate in this study, we will ask you to complete an online survey (linked to below) that should take approximately 10 minutes. Please review the consent language before agreeing to be in the study. Of course, should you have any...