Tue, 07/23/2013 - 12:41pm
It was a beautiful day to tour the state’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation on July 19th, 2013 in Slayton, Minnesota. With the sun high and bright in the sky and only puffy white clouds to speak of, 35 members of SW/WC CERT toured the 7.5 football fields worth of solar panels working at maximum capacity. Keep reading to learn more and see lots of photos.
The day started with a informal lunch at the town’s Pizza Ranch at noon. Members of the CERTs tour, as well as members of the day’s previous tours, gathered in the East room. After a quick introduction by Joel Haskard (CERTs Co-Director) and Jeff Vetsch (West Central CERT Coordinator), Brian Ross of C.R. Planning took the stage to explain some of the changes in the recent Minnesota legislation concerning solar. Click here to view the...
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:51am
On those summer days that are particularly hot and sticky, the use of a ceiling fan in conjunction with air conditioning or natural ventilation may be your best choice to cool things down. The wind chill effect that increased air movement creates on skin means that turning on a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your home thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. From a conservation standpoint, it is important to keep in mind that fans should be turned off as you leave the room—fans cool people (through the wind chill effect), not rooms.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that ceiling fans should not be used in rooms any shorter than eight feet high. Also, blades should never come closer than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the nearest wall. Ceiling fans are a great choice for the summer months, but will likely not reduce your heating...
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:37am
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently highlighted the continued growth of electric vehicle sales—doubling in the first 6 months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012—as the Energy Department released its most recent pricing data showing the low cost of fueling on electricity. The eGallon, a quick and simple way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline, rose slightly to $1.18 from $1.14 in the latest monthly numbers, but remains far below the $3.49 cost of a gallon of gasoline.
“More and more Americans are taking advantage of the low and stable price of electricity as a transportation fuel, and that’s very good news for our economy as well as the environment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the market continues to grow, electric vehicles will play a key role in our effort to reduce air pollution and slow the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:30am
A new report has been published that offers guidance to building officials and solar installers regarding the need for structural review of planned residential solar installations.
The report, issued by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Industry, developed standard load tables that outline limitations for placement of residential rooftop solar electric and solar thermal systems on existing single and multifamily dwellings. The tables encourage safe and structurally reliable systems while reducing costs associated with unnecessary structural review for many residential applications.
The cost to have a structural review of existing conditions for proposed solar installations can be a real barrier to adoption, according to the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:05am
Renewable energy will be prominently featured at this year’s Home Energy exhibit at the 2013 Minnesota State Fair, with several displays dedicated to solar and wind energy. The Home Energy exhibit, located in the Eco Experience at the north end of the fairgrounds, is intended to educate fairgoers about a wide range of energy conservation and energy efficiency measures and renewable energy opportunities.
The exhibit’s solar energy area is a partnership with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and will include four new displays:
A Solar Electricity display that demonstrates the benefits of generating solar energy for electricity and how solar photovoltaic panels provide electricity to your house.
Solar Water Heating display that...
Tue, 07/16/2013 - 12:21pm
The RFP for the CERTs 2014 Seed Grants will open in late August. To prepare, we’re providing some information so that you can become familiar with the application process and start thinking about your projects!
The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams will be seeking proposals for seed grant funds. The grants are designed to provide limited financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring assistance. Project funding can support assistance services (i.e. labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer, or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West Central.
The primary objectives of this funding are to:
Encourage the implementation of community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Minnesota
Tue, 07/16/2013 - 11:42am
Americans have saved nearly $9 billion dollars and 487 billion gallons of water though the use of WaterSense labeled products since the program’s inception in 2006—that is enough water to supply all the homes in Colorado and Arizona for a year!
The WaterSense program has more than 8,600 different models of labeled products, including toilets, faucets, faucet accessories, showerheads, flushing urinals, and wather-based irrigation controllers. “The program seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance” (...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/09/2013 - 10:18am
Many refrigerators and freezers will continue to operate for 15-20 years or even longer. But whether or not these appliances are really working efficiently is another question. It is probably time to replace your old energy-hog refrigerator when it becomes too expensive to operate.
For instance, refrigerators built in the 1970s may use five times more electricity than new, high-efficiency ones and may cost $200 per year more to run than new ENERGY STAR® models. A 20-year-old refrigerator could use 1,700 kWh of electricity every year, compared with about 450 kWh for a similarly sized new ENERGY STAR model. At an electrical cost of 12 cents per kWh, that represents a savings of $150 per year and a potential payback of about 7-9 years. Also, if your old refrigerator requires costly repairs (exceeding a few hundred dollars), then it probably makes sense to replace it with an energy-...
Mon, 07/08/2013 - 2:48pm
A lot of energy goes into powering parking garages, street lamps, traffic signals, and vehicles. Minnesotans have begun to take notice, and in 2009 several communities were given a great opportunity to try out transportation efficiency ideas with Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding.
The hubs of transportation in Minnesota, St. Paul and Minneapolis, led the way in the arena of transportation infrastructure, developing projects such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the City of St. Paul and the Energy Innovation Corridor in Minneapolis and St. Paul along the new Central Corridor light rail line.
In addition to the Twin Cities, Crookston and Golden Valley also upgraded street lighting and traffic signals. LED traffic signals, like the ones installed in Golden Valley, use approximately 80% less energy than standard incandescent fixtures and last...
Mon, 07/08/2013 - 2:07pm
When new Occupational Safety Health Act (OSHA) regulations were announced in 2008, New London-Spicer Schools Superintendent, Paul Carlson, knew it was time to change the lights. The gymnasium lights had always been turned on and off at the breaker box, but the new rules were going to make this process more costly and time consuming.
As a safety precaution, flash arc protection training is now required for anyone flipping a breaker switch. This meant the district would have had to purchase several costly safety suits to fulfill new regulations. “We can’t put somebody in a jumpsuit every time we want to turn the lights on and off,” said Carslon.
The new rules also meant that the lights could only be turned on and off by maintenance staff. If a coach or physical education instructor wanted to turn on the lights they would have to track down someone who had flash arc protection...