BER: Warm tales of successful energy retrofits on a winter walking tour in Hibbing

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Carpet Plaza, a flagship BER participant

On a chilly Thursday, November 21st, The Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT) organized a community event sponsored by the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), Hibbing Public Library, and Energy Insight.

Folks gathered at the public library, dressed in their warmest coats, to share success stories from area partners who had used the services of Business Energy Retrofit (BER) program to reduce their energy waste and to increase their investment in long term savings. The Business Energy Retrofit Program (BER) is designed to educate and help assist businesses with energy efficient decisions and aid in financing the energy retrofit project. The BER Program can provide businesses up to $20,000 in eligible retrofit expenses or 1/3 of the total project up to $60,000. See the presentation about BER from the event.

Ginny Richmond of Hibbing Public Library shared a presentation describing how much energy the library saved with increased efficiency and then how much power it was generating with Minnesota-manufactured solar panels on the roof. Then Scott Zahorik and Vince Meyer of AEOA explained their energy services to local businesses. Finally, the entire crew hit the streets and toured Carpet Plaza, Edward Jones investments, the US Bank building and ended at Zimmy’s to enjoy good stories, food and fellowship. Deb Lundin, owner of Carpet Plaza, and Rich Lees, owner of the Edward Jones building, spoke about the benefit energy efficiency improvements have brought to their businesses. Linda Stroback, owner of Zimmy’s, also praised the program while tour participants enjoyed food prepared by Audrey Johnson, head chef, and staff of Zimmy’s. In addition to perusing the Bob Dylan memorabilia in the singer’s namesake restaurant, some folks took a quick peek at the internationally-renowned Bob Dylan Collection housed in the basement of the Hibbing Public Library.

CERTs Co-Director, Joel Haskard, commented, “Hibbing is building a new vision for business on the Range.” The vision involves increasing energy efficiency and investments in local energy that bring down costs of operations. The vision seems to be working by focusing on shared benefits to the owners, local contractors, customers and community—in addition to the environment. Using ideas and innovations for energy savings, these Hibbing teams have invested in new energy strategies and technologies that will save thousands of dollars each year. Customers and owners appreciate the improvement.

Senator David Tomassoni observed that this new approach would be good for each business and community on the Range. Jim Plummer, from the office of Community Development at the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), worked with Lori Fedo, President of the Hibbing Chamber, to help extend the reach of the BER program to other Range communities. Thanks to BER partners and vision, main street businesses owners across the range will be increasing their comfort and reducing their energy costs this this winter.

CERTs is proud to note that this project was one of several projects that came out of the regional sessions at the CERTs 2013 Conference!

Did you know CERTs was in the Hibbing news for this tour? See the article here >>

Photos from the chilly Hibbing Clean Energy walking tour:

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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