Businesses in the White Bear Lake area learn about simple steps to apply solar energy


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SolarWorks in the White Bear Lake Area

Businesses in the White Bear Lake area had the opportunity to learn about the basics of solar energy and the incentives and rebates available for installing solar energy systems at the Metro CERT Solar Works! for Businesses workshop held on Wednesday May 23rd at Washington Square Bar and Grill in White Bear Lake, MN.

The workshop started off with a brief presentation from Carl Samuelson, Energy Efficiency Program Coordinator for Eureka Recycling’s Food Service Energy Leadership Program. Samuelson spoke about the simple ways owners and restaurant managers can improve energy efficiency in their businesses—an important first step towards sustainability in the food service industry. Participants at the workshop were reminded of the significant savings that are possible through retrofit actions.

The Food Service Energy Leadership Program has worked with 20 restaurants in White Bear Lake for the past two years to identify energy savings opportunities. This program was funded through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources. Participating businesses received an initial site visit, to look for energy savings opportunities in operations, equipment and behavior. Staff then created a report that outlined those recommendations and the potential savings associated with making energy improvements. Program staff provided ongoing technical assistance to participating business owners, to help with follow-through on recommendations and assistance in choosing contractors. This workshop served as a follow-up for those businesses that were ready to take the next step and explore renewable energy options. Several of the program participants were in attendance at the workshop, including The Hanger Room and the host business, Washington Square Bar and Grill.

Todd Fink, an instructor at Century College who specialized in solar systems, spoke next about the basics of solar energy. He informed the business owners in attendance about all the different options for solar and showed how successful solar systems are in Minnesota. Fink gave local examples of businesses that use specific solar systems, such as the solar hot water system installed at May Day Café in south Minneapolis. Fink also mentioned the Minnesota Made photovoltaic solar rebate program available to businesses in Xcel Energy territory that purchase and install solar panels from Minnesota-based solar manufacturers.

Dave Roeser with Garden Fresh Farms presents The workshop concluded with a presentation from Dave Roeser of Garden Fresh Farms . Garden Fresh Farms is an indoor urban farm right in Maplewood, MN that uses aquaponics technology to grow food year round in a sustainable manner. Read more about Garden Fresh Farms and their aquaponics technology in a recent CERTs blog post.

In addition to the sustainable farming practices employed by Garden Fresh Farms, the business also invested in a solar PV array to power its warehouse. The flat roof system is 10kW, and uses panels by Bloomington-based tenKsolar, and you can even track the solar system’s production. Roeser demonstrated to White Bear Lake business owners the financial feasibility of installing solar panels along with the great value of solar systems as an investment.

Overall, the Solar Works! for Businesses in the White Bear Lake area workshop left business owners excited about the prospects of installing solar systems for their businesses. Metro CERT provided attendees with additional resources and contacts to get their projects off the ground, such as the Clean Energy Project Builder and Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) solar site assessment discount program.

Homeowners and businesses in Minneapolis have the opportunity to learn more about how solar can work for them at Metro CERT’s upcoming Solar Works! Workshop on July 5th in North Minneapolis. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

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    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission