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Peter Lindstrom, CERTs Local Government Outreach Coordinator
Lissa Pawlisch
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:39am
“I couldn’t be more excited to work on clean energy initiatives,” said Peter Lindstrom, the newest member of the CERTs team. Peter is spearheading outreach and education to Minnesota cities, counties, and schools about approaches for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, particularly through the Guaranteed Energy Saving Program (GESP). Working with local governments is familiar ground for Peter. He has served on the Falcon Heights City Council since 2000 and is currently in his second term as mayor. He is an active member of the Regional Council of Mayors, including serving as its representative on the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Steering Committee. Most recently, Peter was assistant director of the Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, executive director of SciMathMN, and...
Solar thermal hot water collectors atop Beck Hall at Gustavus
Joel Haskard
Thu, 11/06/2014 - 1:17pm
Overlooking the town of St. Peter, Minnesota, Gustavus Adolphus College is beautiful campus. Over the past few years Gustavus has been able to add a variety of renewable energy systems to add to its charms, including a real focus on solar thermal hot water systems. To learn more, we spoke with James Dontje, Director of Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation in Environmental Studies. Joel Haskard: Tell us why Gustavus has focused so much on solar thermal as a renewable energy technology. James Dontje: As a part of our overall environmental stewardship and climate action effort, we have a commitment to reducing our fossil fuel emissions in general and our greenhouse gas emissions in particular. While the fact that electricity...
Solar thermal air heat wall at PWELC
Erin Smith
Fri, 10/31/2014 - 3:25pm
On October 15th folks from across the West Central CERT region met at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Panelists shared experience and insights gained from their projects, partly funded by WC CERT seed grants. After Q&A on the patio, participants enjoyed the sunny day with a tour of Prairie Woods’ clean energy projects. Greater Milan Initiative – Sustainable Energy Utility During the panel discussion, Ann Thompson with Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) of Milan talked about their Community Center Energy Revitalization Project. The SEU purchased Milan’s old school building for $1 to serve as a community center. As many communities who have gone through this process have learned, a number of these older school buildings require a lot of energy to heat. With that in mind, the SEU pursued a...
RREAL solar furnace installation on a Mille Lacs home
Frank Jossi
Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:53pm
While soaring propane prices last winter helped build interest in solar thermal systems, results from a Minnesota rebate program show the market is still lukewarm. The state’s Department of Commerce has enough rebate money left over to fund dozens more solar hot water or solar thermal projects through its Made in Minnesota (MiM) program. Meanwhile, a much larger pool of money for PV has been exhausted. Although the deadline for rebates has formally passed, MiM’s coordinator Kim Havey said the department has extended the program until the end of the year. Solar thermal could be particularly attractive to rural customers using propane, which may be in short supply again this winter. “Solar thermal...
Students learn about new lighting system being installed
Joel Haskard
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 4:08pm
Looking for a project example that educated students and the greater community about energy efficiency AND reduces costs AND improves the lighting quality? Look no further than the Madison, Marietta, Nassau Elementary School! Madison, Minnesota (pop. 1,551) is located in west central Minnesota. The gymnasium at the elementary school was in sore need of better lighting, and the students were primed and pumped for the retrofit. “The school had completed a partnership with the City of Madison Bright Energy Solutions – an energy saving education program – for the 4th grade class that school year,” says Principal Kipp Stender. “The program taught students about the importance and ways to implement energy efficiency savings with their parents at home. The lighting retrofit at the school was an additional way to show the students how energy savings could be implemented at a...
Langmo Bros Farm with new LED lighting
Alexis Troschinetz
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:03pm
Two federal funding programs are on the near horizon for turkey producers and other farmers to access funds to make energy upgrades on Minnesota farms. See below for more info on each of the programs, as well as an opportunity through the Clean Energy Resource Teams to get help navigating each of the opportunities.   Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)   USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps farmers evaluate energy saving opportunities and provides financial assistance to help make energy upgrades happen. EQIP requires an audit first (the program pays for most—if not all—of it). After the audit, you can apply for financial assistance for a lighting project or any other recommendations in the audit. Applications for this program are accepted on a continuous basis and there are three...
Small businesses, municipalities, churches, and schools in Minnesota can contact RETAP to request a free audit and get suggestions for reducing their environmental impact and costs.
Joel Haskard
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 12:05pm
The Minnesota Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) employs skilled, retired professionals to provide facility assessments and community sustainability assistance to small businesses, institutions, and communities in Minnesota. Recommendations may be simple behavior changes, maintenance improvements, or more complicated retrofits. While you are under no obligation to implement the recommendations, a high percentage of surveyed clients do. Average savings from RETAP recommendations implemented in 2012 was over $2,000 per client. To find out more or to request a free assessment: Visit the...
Erin Smith
Lissa Pawlisch
Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:58am
CERTs is excited to announce our newest staff member, Erin Smith, who started this summer as our West Central CERT Coordinator! We realize we’re a little late introducing her to everyone, but in case you have not met her yet, please continue reading to learn more about her and grab her contact info to say hello! Erin Smith is the West Central CERT Coordinator and is a Community Development Planner at the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission. Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Studies from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Minnesota State University, Mankato with an emphasis on environmental planning. She is a LEED Green Associate and has experience working with in the non-profit realm through an internship with Habitat for Humanity during her time in Mankato. Erin has worked with GreenStep Cities and is...
With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results.
Joel Haskard
Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:24am
The story from Lake Crystal shows that leadership must not necessarily come from the top; interns can do a great deal of directing positive change in a city. With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results. Joan directed the updating of meter readings and building information in B3 Benchmarking and examined the analyses provided by the program for both the city and school district. “To the surprise of many, the city’s building’s fell all across the spectrum of performance, with the newest building on the poorer performing side.” She then considered the next-step options available for the city saying, “Since Lake Crystal couldn’t go forward with the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program due to budget constraints, we prioritized the Lake...
Community Solar survey
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 09/19/2014 - 4:08pm
You might remember seeing a survey in February asking a few questions about Community Solar Gardens (CSGs). CSGs are a way for Minnesotans to subscribe to a portion of a large solar project and receive credit on their energy bill for their portion of the project’s electricity production—just as they would if the panels were on their own roofs. CERTs is continuing its work with researchers from the University of St. Thomas to better understand which aspects of community solar are most important to you and which factors would most influence your decision to subscribe to a project. We’d love to include your insights in a follow-up survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. The results of the survey will be shared in a report in early 2015. Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. Please...
EV event at the capitol
Joel Haskard
Thu, 09/18/2014 - 9:26am
The big National Drive Electric Week event is coming up this weekend—Sunday, September 21st from 1:00 to 4:00pm at the State Capitol Mall. To learn more about the event and electric vehicles (EVs) in general, we spoke with Matthew Blackner, Founder of ZEF Energy. Joel Haskard: Who should come out to this event? Matthew Blackner: Ever wondered what the fuss was all about? Want to cut through the marketing guff and ask ACTUAL owners what the limitations are and how to deal with them? Then this event is for you! If you like what you hear, or want to feel what it is like to drive a car with instant torque, there is a test drive of a fleet electric vehicles round a track on the Thursday afterwards. Joel: What is something surprising folks might not know about EVs in...
MN GreenCorps
Alexis Troschinetz
Wed, 09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in AmeriCorps service with Minnesota GreenCorps for immediate placement during the 2014-2015 program year in the City of Maplewood. Help the City meet energy and sustainability goals by implementing their Partners in Energy Program as follows: Serve as the City’s Energy Ambassador Assemble an energy action team made up of leaders and stakeholders across the community Help create a strategic energy action plan with an incentive and award program for voluntary compliance with the City’s Green Building Code Networking, outreach, and education for schools/businesses/neighborhood groups Work on completion of Green Step Cities best practices Help implement energy efficiency upgrades to City buildings and track improvements How do you apply? The member application...
Join the CERTs team!
Maggie Kozak
Tue, 09/02/2014 - 10:37am
Love energy efficiency, renewables, and helping others save money? Like to work with local units of government on helping them finance their clean energy projects? Then consider joining CERTs! We have a new position open—a Local Government Outreach Coordinator. Read on for more information. If you’re interested in applying, click here for more details. The application deadline is September 15, 2014, so apply now! Summary of Job Description: Over the past several years CERTs has worked to build its network with local units of government through efforts like Minnesota GreenStep Cities, developing a local government energy efficiency story series, and by promoting financing tools like the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and Local Public Buildings...
Staff tracked data on milk consumption and cost, energy consumption and cost, water usage and cost, labor, and waste and recycling generation both before and after dispensers were installed.
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 09/01/2014 - 1:38pm
Katelyn Larsen, Minnesota GreenCorps member for the Recycling Association of Minnesota, recently completed a pilot study on bulk milk dispensers at a K-12 public school in Minnesota. The study was designed to test the feasibility of using bulk milk dispensers in K-12 public schools as well as provide a sustainable alternative to milk cartons in areas where carton recycling is not possible. Larsen tailored the project to understand both the environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with switching to dispensers. The project was supported heavily by the Jeffers Foundation, SilverKing, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. New London-Spicer High School was chosen as the pilot school based on the staff’s willingness to serve as a pilot and collect data. The school received four milk dispensers from SilverKing to replace two milk coolers for use of the pilot. Staff...
Teachers learning how to strengthen their Science, Technology, Engineering  and Mathematics (STEM) curricula by integrating energy education into their lessons at the Laurentian Environmental Center.
Joel Haskard
Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:42am
The Center for Renewable Energy Education & Demonstration (CREED) program strives to help teachers strengthen their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula by integrating energy education into their lessons. CREED hosted K-12 teachers from across Minnesota at the Laurentian Environmental Center (LEC), as well as touring energy efficiency and renewable energy sites. “The live-in situation at LEC enabled teachers to rub shoulders and share teaching ideas,” says Roger Aiken, former lead instructor for CREED. “And the site visits were the single most important aspect of our training according to the teachers. What they had learned in discussions and presentations finally made sense in the real world.” With help from CERTs seed grants in three regions (Northwest, Southeast and West Central), CREED instructors graded the teachers progress for eventual...
Dave Willard of Forest Lake has been eager to invest in the large, centrally located project called a community solar garden, whose output is credited his bill.
Stacey Pederson
Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:23am
Minnesota’s solar power industry is in a growth spurt that’s about to accelerate. The industry, once focused largely on installing solar photovoltaic panels for homes, businesses, and government, now is seeing a surge in investment by electric utilities. Sparking the surge is a 2013 state law requiring investor-owned utilities to get 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2020. At least three Minnesota cooperatives are offering solar options to customers who want rooftop solar, but can’t install it because of too much shade, condo restrictions or other reasons. Customers like Dave Willard of Forest Lake have been eager to invest in large, centrally located projects called community solar gardens, whose output is credited to their bills. Cooperative power companies, especially Great River Energy in Maple Grove, are building more than 20 solar projects this year and next,...
Tour sites for 2014
Laura Burrington
Wed, 08/20/2014 - 10:44am
October 4th, 2014 from 10am-4pm the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society will be hosting the Minnesota Renewable Energy Tour, which features 50+ exemplary homes, businesses, and institutions that have incorporated renewable energy systems into the design and operation of their buildings. From geothermal heat pumps using the earth as a huge thermal buffer to wind turbines elegantly spinning in the breeze, and the many incarnations of solar energy between earth and sky, this event offers Minnesotans an opportunity to find out how their neighbors are trimming their energy bills, increasing their energy independence, and taking steps to reduce their impact on the planet. This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in solar and other renewable energies to view installations and talk with home and building owners, builders, architects, and planners about their experiences. Join us...
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced the incentive amounts for the 2015 Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program.
Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 08/13/2014 - 9:08am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on August 12, 2014, the incentive amounts for the second year (2015) of its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. The solar incentive program will be available to customers of investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) who install solar electric systems (PV) using solar modules certified as manufactured in Minnesota. PV Modules from two Minnesota companies—tenKsolar and Silicon Energy—have been certified for the program to date. Solar PV systems must be less than 40 kilowatts (kW) to qualify for incentives. Applications will be accepted annually between January 1- February 28 each year through 2023 and will be selected by lottery. Solar Energy Production Incentives The six criteria listed in the Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Production Incentive...

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