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Wed, 02/05/2014 - 9:34am
Have you ever seen the “icicle show” at the Federated Church in Morris, Minnesota? The icicles occurred following roof snowmelt and subsequent freezing and grew to be as long as 6 feet hanging from the edge of the roof (see picture). Some of these icicles were massive and if they broke off and hit you, it could’ve been a disaster. Well, the icicles are gone for good. The icicles were the visible symbol of a major heat loss problem that has plagued the church for the last 42 years. The structure was showing physical damage and interior water spots resulting from heat loss caused by the complex roof lines of the church, the lack of ventilation, and poorly or non-insulated thermal boundaries. The architect apparently was not familiar with West Central Minnesota winters, and engineering design and construction did not allow for simple addition...
New reports address Minnesota's Energy Future, the Value of Solar Thermal, and Utility Energy Storage
Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 02/04/2014 - 2:54pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) has posted three reports as required by state legislation passed in 2013. The three reports are available as PDFs on the Energy Reports section of the Division of Energy Resources website, or can be accessed using the links below. The three reports, commissioned by DOC, include: Scoping an Energy Future Study for Minnesota – The Scoping an Energy Future Study for Minnesota develops a scope for a study of how Minnesota can achieve a sustainable energy system that does not rely on fossil fuels. The report identifies potential approaches and considerations to assess cross-sector opportunities in electrical, transportation, thermal, industrial, and agricultural sectors....
Nick Hylla - MREA
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 4:30pm
It seems like every year brings a new normal to the U.S. solar industry. The industry is dynamic, full of business innovation, and often hard to predict. However, two general trends have emerged over the past few years: We consistently outperform our installed capacity projections We often under-perform when it comes to new job creation Unfortunately, many job seekers make assumptions about the first trend that do not match the reality of the second. Before we jump into strategies for pursuing professional development, it may be helpful to discuss why we aren’t seeing a solar employment boom. First, don’t fret too much. Employment in the industry is growing. We are a new industry with a lot more room to grow and have the potential to hire hundreds of thousands of new employees in the United States alone. Currently though, there are two major challenges with creating...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 4:05pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is now accepting applications for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. Made in Minnesota is one component of last year’s solar energy bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor that is aimed to grow the solar energy sector in Minnesota. “Minnesota businesses, nonprofits, and residents that have been interested in solar as a renewable energy source should quickly apply for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “This program will help Minnesota meet our renewable energy and solar goals by creating an opportunity to buy local and invest in solar.” Who can apply for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program? The solar incentive program will be available to customers of the following investor-owned utilities: Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 3:37pm
Are you considering a renewable energy system to help power your home? Are you planning to add solar panels or perhaps a small wind system? Perhaps you are thinking about purchasing green power from your utility, but you want to employ your own clean energy source to increase your energy independence and reduce your carbon footprint? Taking the step in developing your own renewable energy system is an admirable goal and to help you achieve this goal, the Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources recommends that homeowners first apply some simple, energy-saving measures before investing in a renewable energy system. By investing first in energy efficiency and energy conservation up front, you can lessen your energy demand, which will reduce the size of the investment needed for your renewable energy system and optimize the returns on your system. Energy...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 2:20pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced yesterday that Minnesota will receive an additional $15,814,434 in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The total amount of funds Minnesota has received this year is $114,540,746. The LIHEAP program in Minnesota helps low-income homeowners and renters pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers. This announcement is critical for Minnesota’s low-income households, especially those with seniors, young children, veterans, and people with disabilities. The ongoing sub-zero, arctic weather and sky-rocketing propane prices have added additional stress to family budgets. To address this need, the Department of Commerce recently increased crisis benefits from $500 to $1,000 for households that heat with...
Thu, 01/23/2014 - 5:01pm
Interviewee: John D. Paulson, Environmental Specialist, City of Hutchinson Interviewer: Lindsay Wimmer, GESP Outreach Coordinator, Clean Energy Resource Teams The City of Hutchinson used an energy savings performance contract to finance and upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant and retrofit to more efficient lighting in their City Hall, Library, Liquor Store, and Recreation Center. Energy performance contracts are a turnkey implementation method to audit facilities, install upgrades, and pay for those upgrades over a period of time with the resulting savings in the operations and maintenance budgets. Further, the energy savings are guaranteed by the energy service company, and if the upgrades do not result in the determined savings, the energy service company is responsible to pay for the difference. Total Project Cost: $375,114 Guaranteed Annual Savings: $32,571 Actual Annual...
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 11:30am
CERTs Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator Alexis Troschinetz attended the 1st Annual Social of the Minnesota Building Performance Association (MBPA) in Fall 2013. More than 30 people gathered at Indeed Brewery in Minneapolis to sip the delicious brews and “talk shop.” The MPBA leadership, comprised of Rebecca Olson as President, Ross Anderson as Secretary, and John Fedora as Treasurer, gave opening remarks that gave a sense of where MBPA is headed for 2014. For those unfamiliar with MPBA, their mission is to promote safe, comfortable, durable and energy efficient homes with improved air quality, comfort, moisture control, and affordability. Their vision for MPBA is to work toward becoming THE resource for building energy information in Minnesota. To achieve this vision, they’ve set the following three goals for 2014: Increase membership: MPBA wants to...
Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:46am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that it will begin to offer rebates for solar thermal systems starting in 2014 as part of its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program for both solar electric and solar thermal. The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota” solar thermal systems in the state. The solar thermal system may be installed in residential or commercial facilities for, among other uses, hot water or space heating purposes. A solar thermal system is “Made in Minnesota” if components of the system are manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system is certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. Currently, the solar thermal systems certified for the solar thermal rebate program are available from three Minnesota companies:...
Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:20pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce the projects awarded Seed Grants in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions. Most regions awarded $20,000 worth of seed grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state. The funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. There were 34 seed grants awarded in total, across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach and community building, and research. Read on for all of the details! Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal. Since 2006, CERTs has awarded $922,500 to more than 223 projects. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs-Supported Projects page....
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:07pm
There’s been a lot of exciting action on solar energy in Minnesota in 2013. To keep the momentum going, we’d like to invite you to save the date for Solar Powering Minnesota, a conference that will take place in Saint Paul, MN on Friday, March 7, 2014. We have great news: Minh Le—the Program Manager of the Solar Energy Technologies Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy—has been confirmed as our keynote speaker to kick off the conference in the morning. Minh Le helps manage and balance the portfolio of research, development, demonstration, and deployment programs for the national SunShot Initiative. Prior to his current role at DOE, Minh spent his career in industry developing technologies and scaling new technologies to high-volume manufacturing. Minh earned his SB and SM degrees from MIT where he...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:54pm
Since the 1930s, Duluth, Minnesota, has continually drawn frigid water from Lake Superior, heated it to steam in a coal-fired boiler, then pushed that steam through a network of pipes to provide heat for downtown businesses. The city is now studying its options for modernizing the aging system to make it more flexible, economical, and sustainable. A consultant’s master plan presented Monday to the City Council recommends adding sawdust as a fuel source and converting steam lines into a more efficient, closed-loop hot water system. “If we are going to own this, we are going to bring this steam plant into the 21st century,” David Montgomery, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview. “We want to turn this into a real asset, which we think it can become, from an...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:46pm
The market share of condensing boilers, sometimes called high-efficiency boilers, has increased dramatically over the last several years, thanks in part to utility programs that provide rebates. Unfortunately, many of these newly installed condensing boilers only achieve a fraction of their expected ideal case energy savings. Center for Energy and Environment’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Russ Landry explains why, and offers solutions to optimize their performance. When a boiler burns natural gas to heat water, it produces both carbon dioxide and water vapor—which is really just diluted steam. In a conventional boiler all of this steam goes right out the chimney with most of its potential heating energy wasted: The lost heat up the flue results in an annual fuel utilization efficiency of about 80 percent for conventional boilers. In order to increase boiler...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:20pm
A total of 100 rural small business and agriculture producers in Minnesota were assisted by funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in 2013. Funding for 75 of these projects was recently announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien announced funding for the first 25 projects back in August during his visit to Minnesota to advocate for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill at Minnesota’s 2013 IDEAg Farmfest show. The 2013 REAP funding will provide $2.3 million to Minnesota-based rural small businesses and farmers who will then leverage personal funds and other incentives to construct $10 million worth of projects throughout the state. The total number of projects funded and total dollars awarded represent the second highest in the nation and reflect Minnesota’s continued success in securing REAP...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:52am
Douglas Tiffany, assistant extension professor at the University of Minnesota, discussed the economics of co-locating torrefaction, ethanol and coal power plants at the University of North Dakota on Nov. 6. “What we wanted to get an idea of was what would be the rates of return on equity for torrefaction plants and how that use of biocoal could help coal-fired power plants comply with new regulations that are hanging over their head at this time,” Tiffany said. After the cost of biomass, an independent torrefaction plant may face a production cost of $42 per finished ton, Tiffany explained. However, if the plant was able to sell a certain amount of steam and gases, the cost would be estimated at $17 per ton. “A co-located torrefaction plant where it has an opportunity to sell those gases would be enjoying 16 percent rates of return on equity versus six percent without that [...
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:52pm
The development of community solar gardens is a potentially exciting opportunity that will allow individuals to join with others in their community to advance clean energy projects. CERTs is working to develop materials and resources to help individuals and communities better understand what this opportunity does—and doesn’t—mean for them. We’re asking you to participate in a survey so that we can better understand what your needs are to make informed decisions about this emerging solar arena. We hope you’ll help! Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. If you agree to participate in this study, we will ask you to complete an online survey (linked to below) that should take approximately 10 minutes. Please review the consent language before agreeing to be in the study. Of course, should you have any...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:14pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 22 the 2014 incentive amounts for its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, to launch Jan. 1 2014. Made in Minnesota was one of several initiatives enacted by the 2013 Legislature to increase deployment of solar energy throughout the state. It will help achieve the state’s new solar electricity standard, which calls for 1.5 percent of electric sales from investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) to come from solar electricity by 2020. The incentives for solar electric systems from the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be available to customers of investor-owned utilities who install solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV), systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. Modules from two Minnesota...
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:25pm
There are a lot of great educational resources out there to help people understand their clean energy options, but often language barriers can get in the way. Now, for Spanish-language learners, there is a nice collection of clean energy resources available. Thanks to a generous grant from the Carolyn Foundation, Do It Green! Minnesota is distributing a number of exciting new handouts on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Spanish! Materials Available: Lista de Energía / Energy Checklist – a step-by-step list of easy tasks to do throughout the year to save energy Alternativos de energía renovable en Minnesota / Renewable Energy Alternatives in Minnesota – two informative articles about the different types of renewable energy available in Minnesota Preguntas de Energía / Energy Trivia Questions – good for...
Mon, 11/18/2013 - 5:18pm
Ever wonder what to do with the tangled mess of lights that marks the start of many Minnesotans holiday season? Ring in the holidays by getting rid of old, broken, inefficient light strands and upgrading to new, efficient LED holiday lights! CERTs is partnering again with the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) for the 2013-2014 holiday season on Recycle Your Holidays™. RAM recycles every part of the light strings—the metal wires, the plastic casing, and even the lights themselves. We’re providing a map of drop-off locations that are accepting holiday lights, and it’s also possible for you to sign up as a location. Click here to see map of drop-off locations >> Become a drop-off site: From Ely to Fairmont and everywhere in between, any business or organization can participate as a collection site at NO COST. It is a great way to provide a value...
Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:00pm
On November 6, 2013 in Mankato the Energy Service Coalition in Minnesota hosted a workshop for government, energy service company, and utility staff to talk about the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), a technical and financial solution to install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable technologies in publicly owned buildings. GESP utilizes energy performance contracting to identify, finance, and install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy, with additional technical, financial, and contractual assistance by the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources to help with the EPC process for the public sector, including local units of government. The workshop...