West Central Blog Posts
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Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:55am
Minnesota GreenCorps is recruiting the next generation of environmental leaders… do you know someone who has what it takes? Minnesota GreenCorps helps communities across Minnesota prepare for a strong and resilient future by using environmental best practices that achieve results. GreenCorps members are matched with host organizations like cities, school districts, or nonprofits to work on a specific focus area. From September 2015- August 2016, members contribute 1700 hours of service and receive professional development, mentoring, a living stipend of $12,530 and an education award of $5,730. What’s life after GreenCorps like? 8 in 10 alumni report that Minnesota GreenCorps helped them get their desired jobs, and 9 in 10 alumni are employed or in school. Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control...
Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:43pm
The University of Minnesota won the grand prize at the Second Annual Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Competition. The winning group, team OptiMN, was made up of fourteen students from four different colleges that beat out 27 other colleges from the United States and Canada for the top prize. Four presenters, Collin Coltman, Laurel Johnston, Peter Schneider, and Cavan Wagg went to Golden, Colorado to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to present their Impact Home. The Impact Home, which has 3 bedrooms & 1.5 bathrooms, provides the homeowner with excellent thermal insulation and deliberate vapor control. The house would be outfitted with the best of energy efficient appliances and technology, including solar panels on the roof. Nothing is wasted with the...
Tue, 05/12/2015 - 4:11pm
During the CERTs 2015 Conference workshop on Accomplishing GreenStep Cities Energy Best Practices in March, The Weidt Group gave out awards to Minnesota GreenStep Cities to recognize them for their energy benchmarking efforts with “B3 Benchmarking” and more. Measurement is important: There’s a saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and it rings true when cities, counties, and schools are thinking about ways to save energy. Benchmarking is a highly practical way to measure energy use in your buildings and is the first step in managing energy costs. What is B3 Benchmarking and how does it work? B3, which stands for Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond, is a robust online tool for...
Fri, 03/27/2015 - 1:44pm
More Minnesotans will have access to affordable solar thermal systems after the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced that it will offer rebates beginning March 18 to residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. “Moving to solar thermal can help smooth spikes in heating costs by using renewable energy as a complement to current heating sources, whether it’s propane, natural gas, wood or electricity,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The rebates will now help make installing solar heating a more affordable option for Minnesota businesses and residents.” The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota”...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:26pm
This article is republished from the original by Andrea Johnson, Assistant Editor of Farm and Ranch Guide. It’s time to consider solar power again. Better technology and lower prices are making solar power in 2014 achievable and more affordable than in the past. Two types of solar power are available – thermal collectors heat air and water; photovoltaic (photo – light and voltaic – electrical potential) systems convert light to electricity. “We’re really past innovators and early adopters with solar and looking at the ‘early majority’ now. The cost of solar has come down a lot, and all sorts of people are now installing solar energy projects,” said Dan Thiede, Clean Energy Resource Team communications manager,...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:06pm
Zoom around the Upper-Midwest (and linger a while in Minnesota!) to see excellent on-farm renewable energy projects. The potential uses and benefits of renewable energy to rural communities are huge. In fact, they’re already being realized as innovative people and organizations put ideas into action. This is a project of the Center for Rural Affairs in partnership with Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), The Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Clean Wisconsin. Click here to take the tour >> Take action: If you’re a farm or rural small business interested in energy saving solutions and renewable energy, you should consider USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program...
Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:42pm
Looking for support to advance your energy and environment projects? Minnesota GreenCorps members are a great way to add capacity to your organization and grow young leaders. About the Program: 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. MPCA is planning to place up to 40 full-time members with various host sites for the 2015-2016 program year. Members serve approximately 40 hours a week for 11 months beginning in mid to late September 2015 through August 2016. Program Eligibility Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501...
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 4:10pm
On March 10-11, 550 Minnesotans from all over the state gathered in St. Cloud for the CERTs 2015 Conference to learn about successful energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, connect with peers, and get ready to take action in their communities. It was a great turnout, and it reflected the great excitement around the expansion of solar and other clean energy projects around the state, as well as the broad implementation of innovative energy efficiency projects. You can learn more about the event, download speaker presentations, and see photos from the conference at http://2015.mncerts.org. Or just scroll down to see photos and more! Stories about the event were featured in the St....
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 3:07pm
The Midwest Farm Energy Conference and Renewable Energy Tour is coming up in Morris, MN on June 17-19, 2015! To learn more we interviewed Michael Reese, Renewable Energy Director at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris. Joel Haskard, CERTs: Tell us a little bit about the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. Mike Reese: The Midwest Farm Energy Conference will showcase renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in a production agriculture setting. In addition to presentations on a wide variety of agriculture energy-related topics, attendees will tour innovative energy systems including solar electric, solar thermal, wind energy, and renewable hydrogen and ammonia production. This is an opportunity to see the systems in use, and learn about some...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 01/28/2015 - 1:18pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on January 21, 2015 that two new companies have met the qualifications to have their photovoltaic (PV) modules certified as Made in Minnesota. Heliene and itek Energy join tenKsolar and Silicon Energy as solar manufacturers in Minnesota who make solar modules that qualify for the Made in Minnesota PV Production-Based Incentive Program. As a result, incentive amounts have been set by Commerce for both itek Energy and Heliene PV modules produced in Minnesota. Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program Incentives for solar PV are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Owners of an approved and installed PV system...
Tue, 01/27/2015 - 4:28pm
In a time when resources are tight, some companies in Minnesota have successfully lessened their expenses by increasing efficiencies and reducing waste and energy use. What’s more: these businesses were able to complete a number of projects without allocating current staff resources by hosting a MnTAP intern. The intern program helps businesses address pressing efficiency and waste concerns while also saving money. There are upcoming deadlines for both companies and interns—see more details below. Each summer, highly qualified interns lead projects at businesses in Minnesota that range from identifying opportunities to reduce waste, conserve water, to investigating process energy efficiency opportunities. Interns are chosen based upon their outstanding educational background as well as their leadership abilities. Participating companies appreciate the opportunity to work with a...
Mon, 01/12/2015 - 4:03pm
This interview was originally posted on Midwest Energy News. For two years, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has been showcasing a new approach to financing state and municipal sustainability projects around the state. Called the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), the concept offers organizations a way to reduce energy costs and use the savings to help pay for projects. The state created documents to help agencies and municipalities manage the program, which involves an “Energy Services Company” that develops, installs, and provides financial assistance for the projects. It’s not an easy concept to explain even to large agencies,...
Wed, 01/07/2015 - 4:28pm
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from USDA Rural Development is a great opportunity for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses to save energy with efficiency work and add renewable energy systems. Grants can cover up to 25% of eligible project costs, and loans can cover up to 75% of eligible project costs. The funding has just been opened for 2015, and there is twice as much money available as usual (which may mean you have an even better chance of being funded). There is also a shorter application that can be completed without the help of a grant writer for smaller projects. See details below! What is REAP all about, and how can I learn more? The Basics: This year there will be two application windows for the renewable energy or energy efficiency grants: April 30 and June 30 Projects requesting grants of $20,000 ($80,000 total project cost) or...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 4:38pm
Applications for the second year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted beginning January 1 and ending February 28, 2015. The program, entering its second year, helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses, and communities. The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Program’s first year boosts state’s solar capacity In 2014, the first year of the Made in Minnesota program, funding was awarded for 343 solar electric (or photovoltaic [PV]) projects and 20 solar thermal installations. The PV projects equal about 5.1 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity—equal to more than one-third of the state’s total solar capacity of 14 MW when the program began January 1, 2014. Over 10 years, the program is expected to help fund 4,000 solar installations and increase...
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 1:54pm
It’s cold again (really cold), which means we’re all looking for ways to save on energy costs. From the high-tech to the practical, here are some ways to make this winter an energy-saving (and money-saving) opportunity! Follow these tips and enjoy low energy costs from the warmth of your home: Install weather-stripping, caulk leaky doors, and seal your home. If you’re able, adding insulation to your walls and attic is another key way to keep that precious heated air from escaping. Turn down the heat! Lower your thermostat before leaving the house for extended periods. Using a programmable thermostat is a great way to effortlessly adjust the temperature based on your schedule. Change the filter on your furnace once a month so your furnace can breathe easy...
Mon, 01/05/2015 - 1:19pm
As you’re taking down the holiday lights in the coming weeks, you now have the option to recycle any that didn’t make it and avoid having to deal with a tangled mess of lights next season! The Recycling Association of Minnesota, ACE hardware stores, WCCO TV, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are once again working together to provide the Recycle Your Holidays program to Minnesotans. RYH is the only holiday light recycling program of its kind in the country. Who is involved? RAM provides the collection bins and collection services for ACE store customers and other businesses and organizations across Minnesota to recycle holiday lights during the holiday season. CERTs provides the map of these nearly 500 drop-off locations. Vocational centers and their clients are contracted by RAM to provide the pick-up service and sort the thousands of pounds of holiday...
Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:35pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) have been receiving questions from across Minnesota about Community Solar Gardens. During many of these conversations it became clear that communities needed resources they could use to help subscribers understand how community solar works and what they needed to know. To meet these needs, CERTs and our partners have compiled a suite of resources open for use by individuals, communities, and solar companies alike to help everyone make well-informed decisions regarding Community Solar Garden projects. CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens The CERTs Guide to Community Solar Gardens provides an introduction to key concepts and definitions. It was created to illustrate how community solar gardens work, why people might be interested in subscribing, how...
Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:34pm
Erin Smith, West Central CERT Coordinator, chatted with David Wakely, Director of Communications of MN Community Solar, and other stakeholders about an exciting community solar project in Sibley County that is now accepting subscribers. The project, which was announced in late August 2014, will be a 1 megawatt community solar garden in Gaylord, MN. The project is coming to fruition through a partnership with Front Row Energy founded by Steve Mangold. In 2010, Mangold purchased the land in Gaylord where the project will be located (four acres between Michael Foods and the Gaylord wastewater treatment plant) and approached MN Community Solar with his project idea after attending a presentation. The goal of the project is to create economic development in the region. Paula J. King joined her husband, Steve...
Tue, 12/16/2014 - 2:23pm
This story by Frank Jossi was originally published by Midwest Energy News. Last Friday, Minnesota’s largest utility began accepting applications for community solar garden projects. It’s anyone guess how many solar garden developers will submit on the first day of business for Xcel Energy‘s Solar*Rewards Community program. Some developers have already marketed and sold out projects that have been not formally approved. “We see high interest in this and we expect we’ll see a lot of applications but we don’t know what the pace will be,” said Laura McCarten, regional vice president. “One estimated guess is we could get...
Thu, 12/04/2014 - 11:15am
At this week’s Toasty Turkeys event we shared all sorts of exciting funding options for getting LED lighting in turkey barns. We’ll share more details about the whole event in a future blog post. For now, we wanted to be sure that you don’t miss out on these funding opportunities! Read through the four programs listed below. Minnesota Department of Agriculture Livestock Investment Grant Due December 10, 2014 Awarded before February 1, 2015 (so a quick turnaround) Application is short and relatively easy. Best part? CERTs is happy to help you complete sections of it and write a Letter of Support. A little bird told us that odds of receiving this grant are very good. Download an application USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program Due December 19, 2014...