Celebrating 20 years

20 things you should know about CERTs

February 2023

What do you know about the Clean Energy Resource Teams? 

In celebration of working with communities on clean energy action for 20 years, we put together a list of 20 things we think you should know about us! 


  1.  We are a partnership. Our partners include the Great Plains Institute, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Southwest Regional Development Commission, and the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.
  2.  We are written into state statute as a partnership: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/216C.385
  3.  Our mission is to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based — community-driven — clean energy projects.
  4.  We work statewide across all of Minnesota. For real! We organize the state into seven regions and have amazing staff in each region to ensure we build strong local relationships and connections.
  5.  Steering Committees in each region guide our work, determine seed grant funding, and serve as our eyes and ears to what’s happening on the ground related to clean energy in their communities.
  6.  We work on energy efficiency (think: Right Light Guide) and renewable energy (think: Simple Steps to Solar) as well as on electrification of transportation (think: EVs), and heating energy (think: Air Source Heat Pumps).
  7.  We believe clean energy work is relational work — it’s about PEOPLE! Since 2009, our work has impacted 1,290,398 people through our grants, events, programs, and direct assistance.
  8.  We love numbers and tangible energy savings. Since 2010, we have helped save nearly 696 billion BTUs of energy and avoid $9 million in energy costs.
  9.  We don’t do policy advocacy work. Instead, we focus on supporting projects, scaling deployment, facilitating connections, and providing assistance to help communities get clean energy projects done.
  10.  We are a partnership that loves to partner. As we say, we’re partner-y. We are one of the founding partners of Minnesota GreenStep Cities, we have partnered for years with community-based organizations and nonprofits on events and community engagement like Citizens Utility Board, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Growing Up Healthy. We partner with community action agencies, Minnesota utilities like Minnesota Energy Resources and Otter Tail Power, and many, many more.
  11.  We fund clean energy seed grants. These are small grants, typically around $5,000 for tangible, community-engaged projects. Since 2006, we have awarded over $1.6 million in CERTs seed grants to 467 clean energy projects.
  12.  We love to tell stories of real people taking clean energy action. We believe clean energy work is for everyone, and we want everyone to be able see themselves in this work. We work hard to highlight a wide-range of voices, projects, and communities across Minnesota.
  13.  We meet people where they are on their energy journey. It might be that a business is just beginning to think about energy efficiency — how to get more efficient coolers in their rural grocery store — we can help identify energy auditors for the grocery store building, explore funding opportunities for the coolers, provide assistance in navigating grant application processes, connect folks to the local utility, etc.

    Or it might be that a local government is thinking about solar and wants to host a community solar garden to make it available to lower income residents in their community. CERTs can provide a model RFP, help send the RFP to potential developers, and even assist with the proposal review process.

  14.  We provide technical assistance to and collaborate with all types of units of government — from Native nations to schools and cities, state agencies, and regional development commissions. Examples include collaborating with Lower Sioux Indian Community on a heating alternative study, supporting schools with a Solar for Schools pre-application checklist, and working with the Department of Administration on the State’s Solar Master Contract.
  15.  We support small businesses and farmers on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and project financing. We lead outreach about Minnesota’s Property Assessed Clean Energy programs and provide assistance to farms and rural small business through our Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota program.
  16.  CERTs is a Justice40 Accelerator organization working to lower the energy burden for every Minnesota household to under 5%. To tackle this challenge, we're deeply involved with manufactured home energy efficiency to help curb high energy bills for these families and we're committed to promoting all kinds of clean energy jobs to connect people to family supportive jobs in the clean energy industry.
  17.  We work closely with utilities around the state. Some of our recent favorites include sharing Inflation Reduction Act information with many cooperatives, helping several municipal utilities take our Air Source Heat Pump resource and Home Energy Guides and brand them as their own, and co-hosting an EV-focused peer-to-peer event with Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, Minnesota Rural Electric Association, and Greater River Energy.
  18.  We love a good community blitz! From business blitzes to manufactured home park blitzes; there might not be anything more fun than talking to REAL people about what seems like nerdy energy stuff.
  19.  We are champions of cheesy names! We like dorky puns and we LOVE to put the CERTs acronym into other words. For example, our Gobbling Up Savings and Milk the Savings campaigns from years ago, or referring to ourselves collectively as CERTsies or celebrating our CERTsiversary. See what we did there?
  20.  We think it’s important to have fun. We think of CERTs as a big extended family. If we haven’t worked with you yet, we hope we get to sometime soon.

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