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Lighting display at the Eco Experience building
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 07/13/2015 - 5:55pm
Continuing the 8-year run as a primary exhibitor in the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources will again be overseeing nearly 4,000 square feet of exhibit space on energy use in Minnesota homes in partnership with other state agencies, utility companies, non-profits and businesses. Ranging from assessing the performance of existing homes to encouraging smart energy purchases (such as lighting, appliances, and mechanical equipment) to choosing advanced efficiency and renewable options when building new, this exhibit will help Minnesota residents make their homes more comfortable, durable, and efficient. Below are selected highlights from the exhibit… Home Assessments The first step in any home improvement project is to understand how things are currently...
Minnesota GreenStep Cities at the 2015 Awards Breakfast
Philipp Muessig
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:39pm
The League of Minnesota Cities recognized 26 member cities and one tribal community at an awards ceremony for completing one of three participation steps in the GreenStep Cities initiative. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program designed to help Minnesota cities achieve their environmental sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. There are now a total of 83 cities in Minnesota that have completed one or more participation steps since the program began in 2010. Each of the GreenStep Cities program’s 28 best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions in the areas of transportation, buildings and lighting, environmental management, land use, and economic and community development. The actions are tailored to all types of Minnesota cities, and they focus on cost savings, energy...
Summer Institute for Climate Change Education
Peter Lindstrom
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 2:00pm
The tables were turned for 70 educators who attended the Summer Institute for Climate Change Education this past June at Apple Valley’s School of Environmental Studies. For three days, these educators became students on all things sustainability-related. The event is organized by Climate Generation, formerly known as the Will Steger Foundation. Steger himself provided the opening address, inspiring the teachers with tails from his explorations and how those environments are seeing drastic changes. Peter Lindstrom, Local Government Outreach Coordinator for CERTs, addressed a breakout session on the third and final day. “Educators spent two days learning about the critical issues surrounding sustainability,” said Lindstrom. “I viewed my role as providing them...
Erin Smith
Wed, 06/24/2015 - 2:01pm
McLeod Cooperative Power held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of its Community Solar Project on June 23. Some of the members participating in the community solar array, Coop directors and employees, and representatives from Great River Energy, participated in the event. Thirty-nine cooperative members have subscribed to 82% of the panels in the array. Eighteen panels are still available for their members. Members may subscribe to one or more panels, at a cost of $1,550 per panel, and receive the kWh output of their share of the array for the next 20 years. Member’s electric bills are reduced by the solar kWh credit applied to their bill each month. The McLeod Cooperative Power community solar project has 100 solar panels. It is 41 kW (dc) system manufactured by tenKsolar of Bloomington, Minnesota. It...
Electric Vehicle Charging Available Here Sign
Joel Haskard
Mon, 06/15/2015 - 3:37pm
For public entities in Minnesota, a new statewide contract for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE or charging stations) is now in place. Vendor product and contact information is available on the Minnesota Department of Administration website. The purpose of this statewide contract is to relieve the burden of each entity having to perform a request for bid and award contract process. EVSE can still be purchased outside this contract through your own competitive bid and procurement processes. We spoke with Fran Crotty, Electric Vehicle State Program Administrator at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to learn a bit more. Joel Haskard: So if I am a city or county official interested in purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging station for my community, how would this work? Fran Crotty: Cities and counties can log into...
Alexis Troschinetz
Sun, 06/14/2015 - 3:23pm
Nonprofits anywhere in Minnesota can take advantage of 0% loans from Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) before the end of June. If you have a plan for an improvement primarily intended to reduce energy consumption just sitting on the shelf waiting for money to come along, then don’t miss out on this opportunity! Here are some other requirements to keep in mind: Maximum Loan: $25,000 Maximum Term: 5-7 years Existing building occupied in whole or in part by nonprofit Simple payback of 2-10 years and payback must be less than useful life The loan rate will increase to 3.9% after June. Make your project happen today—call Jim and tell him CERTs sent ya! Jim Hasnik Senior Loan Officer, NMLS #1000308 jhasnik@mncee.org 612-335-5885 or 1-855-296-5626 (LOAN)...
Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota
Fritz Ebinger
Mon, 06/08/2015 - 1:56pm
Farmers and rural small businesses are essential to the fabric of Minnesota—its economy, environment and communities. Helping them reduce costs with energy efficiency and take control of their energy expenses with renewable energy is the focus of a new program, Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota, launching this week with support from USDA Rural Development. There’s demand: “We’re seeing increased demand for information about renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements, and are excited to offer free project assistance to Minnesotans,” shared Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Program Manager with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and University of Minnesota Extension. Project support: For more than ten years, CERTs has been connecting Minnesotans with the resources they need to plan and implement energy efficiency and...
Revolt from Great River Energy
Joel Haskard
Thu, 06/04/2015 - 3:59pm
From now until December 31st, 2016, anyone who owns or leases a plug-in electric vehicle in Great River Energy’s service territory will be upgraded for free to 100% renewable wind energy. You can learn more about Revolt by visiting the program website and by reading a recent article from Midwest Energy News. You can also watch the video below featuring the program’s friendly ambassador, Eevie.   Get more on EVs Learn more about EVs, see upcoming events, and find more stories >>  
Map of community solar programs in Minnesota
Dan Thiede
Thu, 05/21/2015 - 4:04pm
Interest in community solar gardens has been exploding in recent months, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) has been busy keeping up with the demand for information and technical assistance. Minnesota has nearly two hundred utilities that can be categorized as investor-owned, cooperative, or municipal. To help people visualize where in Minnesota community solar garden programs are available, CERTs published a map that is publicly available at http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/solargardens#current. The map allows people to see which where each utility’s territory extends and which utilities are currently offering community solar programs. Electric Utility Service Areas layer is public and provided by MnGEO. You...
Minnesota GreenCorps Program
Dan Thiede
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...
L to R: Laurel Johnston, Cavan Wagg, Patrick Huelman, Peter Schneider, and Collin Coltman
Sam Lounsbury
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...
B3 Awards
Peter Lindstrom
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...
Made in Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate Program
Joel Haskard
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”...
The Gibbs family installed a 39,840-watt PV solar system on the south side of a livestock barn
Dan Thiede
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,...
Jake Jacobsen with his wind turbine
Alexis Troschinetz
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...
Minnesota GreenCorps Program
Dan Thiede
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...
CERTs staff getting silly at the conference
Dan Thiede
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....
Midwest farm Energy Conference
Joel Haskard
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...
Made-In-Minnesota Solar Rebate Program
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...
MnTAP intern hard at work
Alexis Troschinetz
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...

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