Mini Market Lupita combines PACE and REAP funding for big savings

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Robin Weis (left) and Gene Metz (right) helped Maria Paarga find funding for energy efficient upgrades in Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant. Alex Chhith/Daily Globe

If you happen to be in Worthington, be sure and stop into Mini Market Lupita for a delicious lunch in the restaurant or to shop at the attached grocery store. Owner Maria Parga has created a great place, and she has done so partly by working with economic development partners in the region to take advantage of existing programs to reduce her energy costs.

Working with the Southwest Initiative Foundation and the Clean Energy Resource Teams, Parga was awarded a $20,000 grant from the USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). Mini Market Lupita had been using open-faced refrigeration stations and freezer chests for years, but with help from the grant, Parga was able to offset the cost of purchasing and installing a new refrigeration and HVAC system. These energy efficient upgrades are expected to save Parga approximately 40 percent, nearly $10,000, of her annual electrical costs – equating to over 135,000 kWh (the amount of annual energy produced by 12 households) in energy savings.

In addition, Parga worked with the Southwest Regional Development Commission to access their Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. With PACE, energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing and is cash flow positive for the business owner.

“We are seeing more and more small businesses combining REAP and PACE to make their energy efficiency or renewable energy projects happen”, says Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Program Manager with CERTs. Fritz worked closely with Parga on her REAP application and has assisted small businesses and farms across Minnesota bundle resources, grants and rebates. “Those programs, along with their local utility rebates, can really make these clean energy projects a no-brainer.”

Project Snapshot:

  • Location: Mini Market Lupita, Worthington, MN – Nobles County
  • Description: Air conditioning, refrigeration, furnace
  • Useful Life: 20 years
  • PACE Loan Term: 15 years
  • Project Costs: $46,000
  • Annual Energy Savings: 441 MMBTU
  • Savings Per Year: $9,807 for 20 years

Learn More:


Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners.

Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

See more resources and available programs >>

See more resources and available programs


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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