West Central Blog Posts

MN Energy Stories Blog
Bringing you news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state. Tell your story.

Get AnswersGet Answers
Stories to help you
get to the bottom of
your energy questions
  Local Government Energy ActionLocal Government Energy
Stories highlighting the
energy-saving efforts of
cities, counties & schools
  Subscribe to digest
Receive stories
in your inbox
Share:

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...
Students learn about passive solar greenhouses in Milan
Aleta Kolan
Thu, 09/19/2013 - 1:32pm
Youth Energy Summit (YES!) students are cultivating knowledge and eating it, too! Many YES! teams have found that they are passionate about local foods and school gardens. This past school year 4 YES! teams built greenhouses at their schools and 13 YES! teams worked on projects related to school gardens and composting. 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. YES! students pick projects that relate to their interests and needs in their schools and communities. After several years of planning and dreaming, the Lac qui Parle Valley YES! team built a 20’ by 40’ passive...
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...
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 09/04/2013 - 2:46pm
The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) paired up recently to promote wind power by reducing permitting barriers, while also protecting resident interests. The report, County Strategies for Successfully Managing and Promoting Wind Power, was published in early 2012 in conjunction with DWEA’s Small Wind Model Zoning Ordinance. The report’s recommendations and the Small Wind Model Zoning Ordinance are now being implemented across the U.S. NACo conducted extensive research to learn and share the best practices from...
Joel Haskard
Mon, 08/26/2013 - 9:58am
Director and Instructor of the Center for Renewable Energy Education & Demonstration, Roger Aiken recently took some time to sit down with CERTs own Joel Haskard to talk about the Discovering Science on the Range in the Field of Energy (DSRFE) project, one of the statewide 2012-13 seed grant recipients. (The DSRFE group poses at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in photo on right) Joel Haskard: Tell us a bit about your project. Roger Aiken: The overarching goal of our work with DSRFE is to provide science, mathematics and technical education teachers at the middle school and high school levels with STEM-rich energy content materials to enable them to become familiar with and direct their students towards careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry. It is all about jobs. Preparing today’s...
Hoffman: heating up efficiency, cooling their energy bill
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 4:42pm
The City of Hoffman, located in the West Central region of Minnesota, may be small in size, but they are looking at the big picture when it comes to energy efficiency. Following their mission statement “to take actions which stimulate the Hoffman Community to adapt and grow into the twenty-first century with economic prosperity and cultural vitality,” the city signed on to the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program in 2011. The program encourages energy conservation and efficiency through upgrades to new and existing buildings in the community, positive behavior change on energy-related issues, and outreach to the community as a whole to spread knowledge of best practices. When cities join the GreenStep Cities program they are classified as a Step 1 City and can advance steps by implementing a number of best practices. It was through striving for Step 2 classification that the City of...
Wind turbines near Lake Benton, MN
Dan Thiede
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 8:15am
Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, has been looking at all things energy in a series of videos and reports on energy use. He and other reporters have been trying to break down how and where different types of energy are employed in the U.S. As it stands, renewable energy makes up only about 10 percent of what we use in the United States. But as energy from fossil fuels declines, renewable energy will likely be asked to shoulder more of the load. Listen to the discussion on MPR’s Daily Circuit among Alexis Madrigal, Kerri Miller, and listeners. See the post on the MPR website >>

Pages

Subscribe to West Central Blog Posts