seed grants

74 projects receive CERTs 2022 Seed Grants

Catalyzing Projects

 

It is an energizing and inspiring start to 2022 for communities across Minnesota. CERTs awarded seed grants to 74 innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects — over twice as many as last round — in communities from Warren to Winona, Morton to Mountain Iron, Long Prairie to Lindstrom.

The communities are funded for a wide range of energy projects, from improving buildings for energy efficiency to job skills training for careers in clean energy.

 

This year, seed grants with a focus on underserved communities received additional funding. CERTs defines underserved populations as energy burdened communities — those who spend more than 5% of their income on energy costs — and other groups historically excluded from energy decisions and opportunities. This includes (but is not limited to) Black, Indigenous and People of Color, immigrants, low income, disabled, women, LGBTQ+ communities, and geographically isolated communities.

These seed grants will advance community initiatives, support local opportunities for jobs and training, and engage communities in reaching their clean energy goals.

Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs statewide director

Map of Funded Projects

This map shows the 2022 CERTs Seed Grant projects — community-driven projects that help people see clean energy working in their own communities and provide communities with opportunities to tangibly learn about and experience the benefits of clean energy. Click on the dots to learn more about projects.

Funding

The doubling of projects and expansion of grants for underserved communities are the result of a successful public-private partnership. The Minnesota Department of Commerce Conservation Improvement Program allocation for seed grants was renewed by the Legislature at $140,000. Commerce added $120,000 more for projects focused on underserved communities by leveraging its State Energy Office funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, a new award from the Morgan Family Foundation provided an additional $70,000 in CERTs Seed Grant funding.

Through these local projects, Minnesotans across the state are investing in the future. These projects will save money, save energy, grow jobs and build more resilient communities.

Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold

Seed grants encourage community-driven projects that help people see clean energy working in their own communities and provide communities with opportunities to tangibly learn about and experience the benefits of clean energy. The 74 funded projects span a broad range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies along with electric vehicle charging. Many projects also include components of education, outreach and community building. 

These awards mark the 11th round of CERTs Seed Grants, totaling over $1.6 million to 467 projects since 2006. The number of applications submitted in 2022 marked a high point in seed grant history thanks to staff and steering committee outreach, on-going relationship building, and tremendous community interest in clean energy. Thank you to everyone who applied. We are inspired by your clean energy ideas and initiative to move them forward. 

Projects by Region (click to expand)

Akiing 8th Fire: 8th Fire Crew Trains and Installs at Lower Sioux Indian Housing Authority

Callaway, MN — A crew from Akiing 8th Fire will travel to Lower Sioux to train people and install solar thermal panels for local housing. This will provide new skills within the solar field and work opportunities for White Earth Tribal members. This represents an opportunity for partnership between two tribal nations on a project that reflects Indigenous worldviews of harmony with the environment. ($5,000 Commerce)

Community Grassroots Solutions: Clean Energy Careers for St. Cloud’s Somali Community

St. Cloud, MN — Community Grassroots Solutions (CGS) will conduct conversations with Somali youth in the St. Cloud area to identify opportunities and barriers related to clean energy careers. Based on conversations, CGS will develop culturally appropriate career outreach materials and connect community members to clean energy career mentors. ($4,000 Commerce)

Creator’s Place: Energy Efficiency for Creator’s Place Bam’idizowigamig*

Pine Point, MN — The project will ensure a more energy efficient building for on-the-job education and training, a community kitchen, technical support and training for entrepreneurs, and a place where people released from incarceration can find support. *Bam’idizowigamig is the Ojibwemowin word for “A Place to Support Oneself.” ($5,000 Commerce)

Hempax: Solar Microgrid Test Site

Ponsford, MN — This project is the deployment of a 600 watt solar and storage test setup to demonstrate the use of hemp-based batteries for local energy resiliency, renewables adoption, and agricultural development. The hemp used in the batteries is grown on White Earth and will return back to the reservation for this clean energy project. ($5,000 Morgan)

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe: Electric Vehicle Transition Project

Cass Lake, MN — In order to increase EV usage on the Leech Lake Reservation, this project will complement the partially funded MNDOT Clean Transportation Project — installing fourteen level two and two DC fast EV chargers on a tribal corridor network. This project will put Leech Lake at the forefront of the transportation electrification revolution. ($3,000 Commerce)

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Department of Natural Resources: Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Onamia, MN — Utilizing the 220 VAC Service at the Band’s DNR Garage, this project will either upgrade from 30A to 50A service, or will work with the 30A service, and install two EV charging stations to provide more publicly available charging options. ($5,000 Commerce)

Ogema Organics: Climate Smart Technologies for a Prepared Future on White Earth

Callaway, MN — Ogema Organics will use climate smart technologies, partner with local Native businesses, nonprofits, and industry partners to create an integrated food network on the White Earth Reservation. This will better prepare residents to adapt to climate change impacts by having access to local, fresh food, year-round. ($5,000 Morgan)

St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Catholic School: Double Door Vestibule

Long Prairie, MN — The non-thermal glass, single-door entrance on the north side of the school’s 1906 building is a significant source of cold air coming into the school as students arrive and leave the building. The Building Committee developed plans to remodel this entrance, making it into a double door vestibule, reducing the cold air flow into the building and thereby reducing energy use. ($3,000 Commerce)

Unidos MN Education Fund: Energy Justice Pueblitos

St. Cloud, MN — Unidos MN will conduct a series of train-the-trainer educational workshops on energy efficiency and electric bills with support from Minnesota’s Citizen Utility Board. Unidos MN plans to establish a cohort of community experts who will engage with Latinx community members on energy efficiency resources and tools, as well as provide bill consultation. ($5,000 Commerce)

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All Parks Alliance For Change: Manufactured Home Improvement Partnership Program

Saint Paul, MN — Manufactured homes built prior to creation of HUD’s federal housing code in 1976 are among the lowest quality housing stock with some residents using 30% or more of their income for housing cost, based on utilities alone. A Minnesota Housing Finance Agency manufactured home rehab loan program allows home replacement, but many resident homeowners, park owners, and cities are largely unaware of the program. This project will support repairing and/or replacing pre-1976 homes. ($5,000 Commerce)

Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative: Solar Initiative

Minneapolis, MN — Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative is working to add rooftop solar arrays to most of their Minneapolis properties. They are working in partnership with Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF), a member-owned cooperative that focuses on broadening access and building wealth for Minnesotans, particularly those who are people of color and/ or who have low to moderate incomes, or have otherwise been economically marginalized. CEF will be supported by 1-2 staff from a local energy democracy nonprofit called Community Power. ($5,000 Commerce)

Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED): Energy Education

Hennepin County — CEED will be working with community partner, Phitsavath Nantharath (Phitz), to do outreach and education on energy efficiency in the Southeast Asian community in Hennepin County. This project builds on previous work providing energy education on how to read energy bills, ways to save on home energy costs, and ways to conserve home energy use. This work previously reached over 200 Southeast Asian households across the Metro region. ($5,000 Morgan)

City of Bloomington: Energy Resource Workshops

Bloomington, MN — The city aims to connect residents, especially those with higher energy burden, to resources that will lower their energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residential energy use, and improve community health. Many homes in Bloomington are lacking insulation and could benefit from air sealing. Through community energy conversations in 2021, city staff learned many residents are confused or unaware about energy program offerings. The city also learned about the barriers residents face when signing up for the energy assistance program and/or weatherization assistance program. The purpose of these workshops is to address those barriers. ($4,775 Commerce)

City of Maplewood: Clean Energy for All

Maplewood, MN — The Clean Energy for All study seeks to identify program opportunities to reduce energy burden for historically underserved populations living in manufactured home parks. The study will research and outline creative ways to reduce energy use, create clean energy opportunities, and outline actions and next steps. It will help guide an energy burden outreach project that will focus on 800 households within three manufactured home parks in Maplewood, and include actions for immediate reduction of energy use, and review of solar benefits. ($1,000 Commerce)

City of St. Louis Park: Engaging NOAH Property Owners and Tenants for More Resiliency

St. Louis Park, MN — The City of St. Louis Park looks to hire a consultant to conduct a community engagement research project on the barriers to energy efficiency and rooftop solar projects in Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) properties. The project will engage tenants about their experiences with energy burden, energy-related repairs, and displacement concerns. The project will also engage property owners to identify specifi c barriers to participating in energy efficiency, solar, and affordable housing incentive programs. Findings will inform future programs in the city. ($5,850 Commerce)

Clark Grace United Church of Christ: UCC Energy Outreach

South St. Paul, MN — This project is a community energy efficiency outreach program that creatively builds on energy efficiency upgrades at the church. The program will include a ribbon-cutting event for the energy efficiency upgrades and an energy efficiency fair that will include information on how individuals can reduce energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs. The first 25 households who sign up for a Home Energy Squad visit will receive a discount. In addition, a case study describing the impact of installing energy efficient equipment will be developed and distributed. ($4,050 Commerce)

Iby’s LLC: Light of Lake Street

Minneapolis, MN — The goal of this project is to add renewable energy resources and limit dependence on energy sources that cause climate change and damage the environment. The multi-faceted project will add solar energy to two new projects on Lake Street — a mixed-use building and a commercial building between Nicollet and Bloomington where little to no renewable energy projects exist. The project will also fund and facilitate a youth incubator to train youth about the potential of solar, how to install solar energy, and how to market solar to the rest of the community. ($5,000 Commerce)

Just B Solar Co: Intro to Solar 101

Minneapolis, MN — Just B Solar (JBS) was established because case studies, research, and personal experience illustrated that there needed to be an emphasis on renewable energy in low income and underserved communities. Their goals are to engage people in their community in the new energy revolution; build awareness and education about solar in underfunded and low-income communities; educate youth, and spark innovation and interest in new energy. ($5,000 Morgan)

Minneapolis Climate Action: Art and Climate Change — Creating Partners in Community Solar Gardens

Minneapolis, MN — This project will create an arts-based, outreach guide designed to educate community stakeholders and historically underrepresented communities on the benefi ts of Community Solar Gardens (CSGs). The visual guide will serve to educate, increase environmental justice, and promote climate literacy. Minneapolis Climate Action will use art to engage new voices, build trust, and bring the benefits of CSGs to underserved neighborhoods. They are partnering with Central and Lyndale neighborhoods, focusing on the Latinx, Somali, and African American communities, to create the guide. ($5,000 Commerce)

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation: Improving Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes

Anoka and Chisago Counties — The grant will be used to assess the energy effi ciency of manufactured homes in Northcountry Cooperative Foundation’s client communities including Park Plaza Cooperative, Fridley (86 homeowners); Stonegate Cooperative, Lindstrom (50 homeowners) in partnership with Slipstream. The assessment data will be used to develop a scalable energy efficiency rehab loan and grant program for manufactured/mobile homeowners. ($5,000 Commerce)

Unidos MN Education Fund: Energy Justice Pueblitos

Minneapolis, Minn — Unidos MN will conduct a series of train-the-trainer educational workshops on energy efficiency and electric bills with support from Minnesota’s Citizen Utility Board. Unidos MN plans to establish a cohort of community experts who will engage with Latinx community members on energy efficiency resources and tools, as well as provide bill consultation. ($5,000 Commerce)

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40 Acre Cooperative: Solar Powered Hoop Houses for Crop Protection

Rutledge, MN — This project will complete the installation of solar equipment previously purchased that will provide power to the farm’s research and development hoop house. This solar powered hoop house project will extend the growing season and protect plants from weather, pests, and external threats, and can be especially useful for market and other specialty crop farmers in the region. This project looks to demonstrate the cost savings and economic viability of solar powered hoop houses to extend the growing season for small and specialty farmers in the region. ($5,500 Commerce, Morgan)

East Central ISD #2580: Eagles Soar with Solar

Finlayson, MN — The school has already done many energy efficiency upgrades and now wants to complete an evaluation to see if they are a good fit for solar energy. By having solar energy, the school hopes to reduce its ecological footprint and save money on increased summer electric bills. ($5,000 Commerce)

East Range Academy of Science and Technology: 40kW School Solar Array

Mountain Iron, MN — The school’s students, school board, faculty, and administration want a solar PV system as part of an overall strategy to achieve the goal of a zero net carbon building. The system will be net-metered with a capacity of 40 kW, with roof-based and ground-based solar panel arrays. It will use microinverters to provide AC power for school use and feed power back into the community electrical grid during times of lower demand. ($5,000 Commerce)

Ecolibrium3: Lincoln Park Resilience Hub Resilient Power Design Project

Duluth, MN — This project is the reimaging of a closed senior center into a refreshed community space that meets the needs of the surrounding low-income neighborhood while demonstrating potential for resilient power solutions. The grant-funded portion of the project will support local staff assistance during technical analysis and design phases for resilient power solutions that will allow continued functioning during disasters and/or grid outages. The 20,000 sq ft facility is made up of two buildings that will serve as home to Duluth’s winter warming shelter for homeless individuals, multiple direct service nonprofits, and a local food access solution. ($5,000 Commerce)

Ecolibrium3: One Block — Developing Environmental Justice Climate Resilience Data

Duluth, MN — The One Block project recognizes that advancing climate equity, energy transition, and disaster resilience is complicated. The project will assist in determining the best solution sets for hyper-local implementation in an environmental justice neighborhood of Duluth. The grant will support Ecolibrium3’s Building Performance Professional in home and property evaluations to determine potential scopes of work and funding needed for healthy and efficient transition to Ready4-Rain housing with beneficial electrification. ($5,000 Commerce)

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Sustainable Living Tours

Cloquet, MN — Within Carlton county, the Fond du Lac Band has constructed the fi rst LEED Resource Management building, a one megawatt solar field, biomass district heat system, Tesla 8 vehicle charging stations, a Forest Carbon Sequestration Project, and an organic farm with food storage and processing area. They have developed a Strategic Energy Plan and reduced fossil fuel use by 50% and CO2 by 80%. This grant will help cover staff time as they provide tours and discuss pathways to achieve sustainable living with schools, colleges, organizations, and the public. ($5,000 Commerce)

Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Clean Energy Initiative

Grand Portage, MN — Grand Portage will begin converting many of their enterprises to solar power. A feasibility study is necessary to determine whether each building should have its own solar array, or whether there should be one for the community at large, and if the latter is true, where would be the best location and what size of array would be appropriate. ($5,000 Commerce)

Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Log Building LED Project

Grand Portage, MN — Grand Portage Community Log Building is a public meeting place. This project will support the Band transitioning this facility to all LED lighting. ($5,000 Commerce)

Healthy Alliances Matter for All, St. Mark AME Church: Charcoal Coolers at the Giving Garden

Duluth, MN — This project will enhance the Giving Garden’s success in sustaining produce grown, gathered, and shared by the community. Three charcoal coolers and how-to use videos and fact sheets will be built and designed by youth. Charcoal coolers address the need for refrigeration in areas where electricity is unavailable. Youth and neighbor participants will receive hands-on experience in the benefits of clean energy systems for food preservation. ($5,000 Morgan)

Kanabec County Agricultural Society: Light the Grounds

Mora, MN — The project aims to change out exterior light fixtures at the fairgrounds in order to decrease annual use and cost to the organization. There will be a brochure, signs, and news articles to educate the community about the savings as a result of these changes, especially during the county fair. Additionally, the project will explore the possibility of adding a Community Solar Garden on the fairgrounds with the intent of establishing an energy source for both the fairgrounds and for low income households in the community. ($4,740 Commerce)

Prototypical LLC: Ten K Solar Microinverter Adaptation Project

Finland, MN — This project will research, develop, and market a device that allows solar systems, previously built by Ten K Solar (dissolved company) to continue producing clean energy, and, in the process, connect owners with resources to keep their systems operational. Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center will serve as a test location for prototypes. ($5,000 Commerce)

Regency Park Mobile Homes: Mora Energy Efficiency Outreach

Mora, MN — Create an outreach event at the Mora Regency mobile home park (approximately 85 units) to educate residents about how to save money, conserve energy and water, and connect them to available programs such as utility rebates and community action agency programs (Head Start, SNAP, weatherization). ($1,900 Commerce)

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Aaron’s Grocery: Cooler Replacement

Fertile, MN — Most of this grocery store’s refrigeration equipment is old and inefficient with 24 feet of produce coolers that need to be replaced. The labor expense will go toward installation of these new coolers. ($4,000 Commerce)

City of Halstad: Wimmer Homes Insulation

Halstad, MN — Wimmer Homes, originally built in the 1960s for low-income elderly people to preserve independence in small homes, were designed with electric heat and have received insufficient R value updates through the years. This project will insulate the attics in 14 rental units owned and operated by the city of Halstad. ($5,000 Commerce)

City of Middle River: Legacy Center Energy Efficiency

Middle River, MN — The City of Middle River purchased the Legacy Center (former Middle River Community School) in 2018 after the school closed in May 2018. The energy costs of maintaining the 45,000 square foot building have strained the city’s budget. A number of measures are in the works to reduce energy costs including the installation of a wood-burning furnace through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, and replacing existing fluorescent lights with more energy-efficient lights. ($5,000 Commerce)

City of Warren: Clean Energy Independence — Model Plan for Design for Community Regeneration

Warren, MN — The Warren Clean Energy Independence Plan will create actionable recommendations and be a regional model for clean energy independence. This work builds from visioning, planning, and prioritizing completed in the first phase of “Design for Community Regeneration (D4CR) Warren.” Running alongside D4CR Phase 2, this project will generate detailed analysis, recommendations, and tools for implementation that address opportunities to reduce energy burden, improve energy security and resilience, offer economic development opportunities, and build on Warren’s leadership to be a model for a just and regenerative energy path. ($5,000 Commerce)

Halstad Municipal Utility: Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Halstad, MN — Halstad Municipal Utility would like to contribute to the electric vehicle grid by supplying a charging station close to their downtown. Whether it is bringing tourists to shop at their new General Store or visiting the “World’s Largest Sugar Beet,” the City of Halstad hopes to alleviate range anxiety for EV customers. They also plan to promote EV charging at homes with Off Peak incentives. ($5,000 Commerce)

Headwaters Music and Arts: Creating Light and Warmth with Music and Art

Bemidji, MN — This lighting project seeks to lower the overall energy burden while improving the quality of lighting and environment for students, staff, volunteers, and visitors. This project will produce a more sustainable and creative environment, and strengthen the organization as it aligns with their values of collaboration, innovation, and empowerment. ($5,000 Commerce)

Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity: ReStore HVAC Update

Moorhead, MN — This project will improve the energy efficiency of the HVAC system within the ReStore/Habitat office building. The 18,000 sq ft building serves nearly 17,000 customers a year, many of whom are low income. Two of the three HVAC systems are suspected to be original to the building, built in 1964. Cost savings from energy efficiency improvements to their systems will allow them to keep ReStore prices low and put more funding into their home building mission. ($5,000 Commerce)

Marshall County: Electric Vehicle Charger

Warren, MN — This project will provide a public EV charging station easily accessible to residents, employees, and visitors, and expand the community’s EV resources. ($4,000 Commerce)

New Americans Integration Center: Building Energy Efficiency Assessment and Open House

East Grand Forks, MN — The New Americans Integration Center will hire a professional to conduct an infrared assessment of the building. Information from the report will allow prioritization of weatherization projects for the building. Following completion of the weatherization improvements, an open house will take place to share the energy savings achievements with the Somali community and the community in general. An essay project for Somali students will encourage engagement around saving energy at home. ($5,000 Morgan)

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation: Improving Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes

Moorhead, MN — The grant will be used to assess the energy efficiency of manufactured homes in Northcountry Cooperative Foundation’s client Bennett Park Cooperative in partnership with Slipstream. The assessment data will be used to develop a scalable energy efficiency rehab loan and grant program for manufactured/mobile homeowners. ($5,000 Morgan)

Red Lake Charter School: Solar for Red Lake Charter School (Endazhi-Nitaawiging)

Red Lake, MN — The new Red Lake Charter School will conduct a solar feasibility study and will translate available solar curriculum into the Ojibwe language. ($5,000 Commerce)

White Earth Economic Development: Naytahwaush Boxing Gym

White Earth, MN — The Naytahwasuh Boxing Gym is used as a community wellness center and the training facility for the White Earth Nation Boxing Team. This building has been repurposed multiple times, originating as a 1970s sewing factory. The building lacks adequate lighting and proper insulation around entrances and exits. This project will update the lighting from fluorescent to LED, and insulate the exterior doors. ($5,000 Commerce)

White Earth Land Recovery Project: Solar Feasibility and Building Energy Assessment

Callaway, MN — White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) will determine the feasibility of becoming more energy efficient through solar field development, and solar development for the roof. This project will create a clear plan for WELRP to become more energy efficient in a way that is cost effective. ($1,500 Commerce)

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Channel One Regional Food Bank: Food Bank Lighting Retrofit

Rochester, MN — Channel One Regional Food Bank (C1) partnered with RETAP to evaluate their energy management practices and potential energy efficiency projects. Retrofitting C1’s lighting load was recognized as the best place to
realize efficiencies and this project will implement the recommendations. By investing in energy efficiency upgrades, C1 will reserve general operating funds for their mission to end hunger in their region and demonstrate the viability of energy efficiency upgrades to other nonprofits, especially their network of 200 partnering food shelves and local food security programs. ($3,550 Commerce)

City of Houston: Community Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Houston, MN — Expanding the EV charging network is necessary for EV acceptance and widespread EV use. This project will position Houston, a small rural community, and show forward-thinking that helps reduce its carbon footprint. It will encourage visitors already embracing EV technology, to explore greater Minnesota. ($2,500 Commerce)

Growing Up Healthy: Clean Energy Resources in Spanish

Northfield, MN — This project will engage community members whose primary/preferred language is Spanish, in local clean energy efforts. Spanish-speaking and Latinx community members have been underrepresented in local discussions about clean energy and climate change. To engage these community members in decision making about clean energy technologies and advocate for community-wide adoption of clean energy, information about clean energy, climate change, and local efforts must be readily available in Spanish, as well as English. ($5,000 Commerce)

Healthy Community Initiative/Growing Up Healthy: It Takes a Community to Strengthen Energy Efficiency

Faribault, MN — This project will use the “Meetings in a Box’’ concept to conduct neighborhood-led energy efficiency events in two manufactured home communities in Faribault. Partners will provide tools and background information to assist, and they plan to schedule 40 Home Energy Squad visits between the two communities. Ultimately, this project intends to provide a replicable model of empowering residents and neighborhoods toward sustainability. ($5,000 Morgan)

Hillcrest Community Cooperative: Community Building Remodel

Clarks Grove, MN — This project will focus on replacing the siding, single pane windows, and adding wrap and insulation on their office and the attached apartments. By increasing energy efficiency, they will be able to provide comfortable, safe, and energy efficient living to low-income tenants and residents. ($5,000 Commerce)

Hometown Resource Center: Facilities Efficiency Updates

St. Charles, MN — Like so many nonprofits, Hometown Resource Center is pinched by rising utility costs, labor costs, inflation on supplies, etc. Controlling their utility costs through an HVAC upgrade is part of their strategy to remain financially viable to continue to serve community members well into the future. The furnace in their building was installed in 1985. There have been issues with its function and its efficiency. A replacement furnace would be fuel efficient, which would be better for the environment, in addition to reducing monthly bills. ($5,000 Commerce)

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation: Improving Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes

Southeast MN — The grant will be used to assess the energy efficiency of manufactured homes in Northcountry Cooperative Foundation’s client communities Sunrise Villa Cooperative, Cannon Falls (47 homeowners); Zumbro Ridge Estates, Rochester (109 homeowners); Hillcrest Community Cooperative, Clarks Grove (76 homeowners) in partnership with Slipstream. The assessment data will be used to develop a scalable energy efficiency rehab loan and grant program for manufactured/mobile homeowners. ($5,000 Commerce)

Precipitate and Community Action Center of Northfield: Energy Engagement with the Hillcrest Community

Northfield, MN — This project will connect with residents of Hillcrest Village, a series of affordable rental units and townhomes developed by the Community Action Center of Northfield (CAC) to support low-income people in need of stable housing. This population has been and remains severely underserved, more highly impacted by climate change, and left out of conversations about climate justice solutions. Precipitate and CAC will collaborate to inform future affordable housing based on the experiences and perspectives of the Hillcrest Village residents. ($5,000 Commerce)

Project FINE: Energy Efficiency Outreach to Refugee and Immigrant Populations

Winona, MN — This project will increase access to CERTs resources and information for refugees and immigrants residing in Winona County. Activities include translation of CERTs Energy Resource Guides and Right Light Guide for General Use Bulbs into Hmong, and outreach to share these materials in Hmong and Spanish. ($4,950 Commerce)

Project FINE: Understanding Your Energy Bill

Winona, MN — This project will provide information to refugees and immigrants about energy bills and ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Activities include workshops and individual outreach related to understanding utility bills and possible ways to reduce costs. ($5,000 Morgan)

Regency Park Mobile Homes: Eagle Lake Energy Efficiency Outreach

Eagle Lake, MN — Create an outreach event at the Eagle Lake Regency mobile home park (approximately 65 units) to educate residents about how to save money, conserve energy and water, and connect them to available programs such as utility rebates and community action agency programs (Head Start, SNAP, weatherization). The event will attract participants with ice cream and free energy saving items. ($1,600 Commerce)

Rethos: Places Reimagined: Old Home Energy Efficiency Classes

Winona, MN — The primary objective of this project is to advance home energy efficiency in the southeastern region of Minnesota, centered around Winona, by providing a series of short informational videos about home weatherization and energy upgrades. These will be filmed in an older building in Winona by a local videographer. Experts will discuss and demonstrate basic energy efficiency updates that homeowners can tackle themselves. ($5,000 Commerce)

Semcac: Collaboration for Interpreting Services of Energy Programs

Southeast MN — Semcac Energy Assistance and Weatherization Programs will administer this project in eight southeastern Minnesota counties. The objective is to provide contracted interpreting/translating services to clients and potential clients who speak a language other than English to determine Energy Assistance Program eligibility for the household, educate families about energy efficiency, help households receive assistance paying energy bills, and educate them about energy-conservation services. ($5,000 Commerce)

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City of Jackson: Bike Local, Shop Local — Developing a Bicycle Incentive Program

Jackson, MN — This project will focus on adopting a “Bicycling Business Incentive Program” where Jackson area businesses will award those who bike to work or visit their business. This is an energy efficiency project that will foster behavior change using authentic community engagement and education, encourage participating businesses to offer a discount, allow employers to provide employee incentives (i.e. bicycle commuter reimbursements, bicycle shop discounts, etc.), and provide education about EVs and electric bikes. ($5,000 Commerce)

Lower Sioux Indian Housing Authority: Akiing 8th Fire Crew Trains and Installs

Morton, MN — This project will create a partnership among Akiing 8th Fire (White Earth) and the Lower Sioux Indian Community to train and install solar air furnaces to become more energy efficient. This program will create jobs and facilitate these tribal communities working together to teach their families ways to address energy independence. ($5,000 Morgan)

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation: Improving Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes

Southwest MN — The grant will be used to assess the energy efficiency of manufactured homes in Northcountry Cooperative Foundation’s client communities: Five Lakes Cooperative, Fairmont (87 homeowners); Sungold Heights, Worthington (100 homeowners); Madelia Mobile Village Cooperative, Madelia (47 homeowners) in partnership with Slipstream. The assessment data will be used to develop a scalable energy efficiency rehab loan and grant program for manufactured/mobile homeowners. ($5,000 Commerce)

Shetek Lutheran Ministries: Clean Energy Educational Programs

Slayton, MN — Shetek Lutheran Ministries will develop and provide clean energy educational courses, utilizing LED lighting as an example, to both course participants and their camp guests. Thousands of camp visitors receive environmental education annually, through interpretive public programming, educational signage, private and public events, and school fi eld trips. This will create opportunities for connection and engagement, and help to advance awareness of regional clean energy initiatives. In addition, by posting accurate information regarding energy and cost savings pertaining to Shetek Lutheran Ministries’ LED lighting, other groups and organizations will be inspired and investigate clean energy opportunities for themselves. ($5,000 Commerce)

South Central Electric Association: Electric Vehicle Education

Windom, MN — Electric cooperatives in southwest Minnesota will host an EV education event. The event will include presentations informing attendees about EVs and EV charging; there will be different EV models for participants to see and possibly test drive. The objective is to educate southwest Minnesota residents on EVs and charging options. The electric cooperatives (South Central Electric, Nobles Electric, Federated, Brown County, and Redwood Electric) cover almost the entire southwest CERTs region. ($5,000 Commerce)

Unidos MN Education Fund: Energy Justice Pueblitos

Worthington, MN — Unidos MN will conduct a series of train-the-trainer educational workshops on energy efficiency and electric bills with support from Minnesota’s Citizen Utility Board. Unidos MN plans to establish a cohort of community experts who will engage with Latinx community members on energy efficiency resources and tools, as well as provide bill consultation. ($5,000 Morgan)

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Akiing 8th Fire: 8th Fire Crew Trains and Installs at Lower Sioux Indian Housing Authority

Morton, MN — A crew from Akiing 8th Fire will travel to Lower Sioux to train people and install solar thermal panels for local housing. This will provide new skills within the solar field and work opportunities for Lower Sioux Tribal members, as well as White Earth Tribal members. This represents an opportunity for partnership between two tribal nations on a project that reflects Indigenous worldviews of harmony with the environment. ($5,000 Morgan)

City of Morris: Energy Experience Pathway

Morris, MN — This project will raise community awareness and engagement with clean energy technologies and their applicability within rural municipalities. The Energy Experience Pathway (EEP) will identify sites throughout Morris, the University of Minnesota Morris campus, and the surrounding countryside to feature, and signage at each location will provide explanations and information on the theory and application of the technology deployed, energy savings (in kWh and dollars), and history behind each project. ($5,000 Commerce)

City of Willmar: Willmar GreenStep Reboot

Willmar, MN — This project will jump start the GreenStep work previously initiated, and bring in more community members not only to help implement best practices in the city, but also to provide educational lectures on best practices. The first goal is to create the Willmar Green Team with members from the utility, city, county, and other important regional organizers. These members will be the leaders and presenters for future community meetings. ($2,000 Commerce)

Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches: MN Venture Farms Cold Climate Solar Greenhouse

Benson and Paynesville, MN — Year-round food production is nearly impossible for BIPOC and economically disadvantaged farmers who lack the capital to own and operate cold-climate solar greenhouses that can actively grow produce during Minnesota winters. This project will design a plan to implement and operate cold-climate solar greenhouses at multiple farm sites to increase access to locally produced, healthy foods year round; increase food security; reduce health disparities; promote sustainable agriculture; and provide agricultural education programs. ($5,000 Morgan)

Gustavus Adolphus College: Promoting Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency In Diverse Communities

St. Peter, MN — This project will engage college students in local clean energy, energy efficiency efforts, and education. Gustavus interns will be mentored by, and work directly with the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council (SMCEC) to develop collaborations and identify specific local opportunities. The interns will recruit students from area colleges to engage with SMCEC, and develop local action plans for clean energy and energy efficiency, with an emphasis on underrepresented communities. Student groups will then execute the action plans in their local communities. ($1,850 Commerce)

Paynesville Area Secondary School: Performing Arts Center/Lighting Upgrade

Paynesville, MN — The Performing Arts Auditorium, located in the Paynesville Area High School, has a mix of LEDs and inefficient high bay lights. This project will replace the lights with dimmable LED high bays, which will involve removal of seating and use of a lift and scaffolding. The project will also educate the greater community about opportunities to switch to LED lighting in their homes. ($5,000 Commerce)

Regional Fitness Center: Growing Support for Electric Biking in Stevens County

Morris, MN — This project will increase support and awareness of electric bikes as a clean energy solution by creating content to market electric bikes and their use, performing outreach to the campus and community with this content, teaching awareness and the importance of electric batteries and vehicles, as well as their connection to clean energy; and setting procedures in place for the future. ($3,950 Commerce)

University of Minnesota Morris: Intercultural Sustainability Leaders in Energy

Morris, MN — This project will develop a sustainability leadership program for college students from diverse backgrounds. Students from marginalized communities report that they do not see themselves represented in the sustainability and energy movements, making it hard for them to envision career pathways. This program will expose students to BIPOC leaders in clean energy from across Minnesota and the U.S. The program will also help students articulate sustainability and energy transition in culturally and community relevant ways. ($4,050 Commerce)

Willmar Municipal Utilities: Regency Park Energy Efficiency Outreach

Willmar, MN — Create outreach events with multiple partners at the two Regency Mobile home parks in Willmar to educate about electrical efficiency, thermal savings with water efficiency, and communication about wastewater issues. Local utilities have identified these sites to have significantly high water and electricity use, and they hope to educate residents and reduce the average use per household. ($2,200 Commerce)

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