SHOOT FOR THE MOON! A thank you, a reflection, and a call to action for students in Minnesota this Earth Day

We are absolutely elated by all of the super-awesome Earth Day events happening in schools across the state, and all of the time and energy that students in Minnesota have devoted to saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint!

As energy-related issues are ever-present in our society, climate change is said to be the greatest challenge of our time. But let’s not forget, with great challenge comes opportunity. I’m sure you’ve heard the metaphor which compares the challenge of solving the world’s climate crisis to that of landing a man on the moon (think: JFK’s Apollo Project of 1969). Over the past forty years, we humans have mustered up the willpower to do some amazing and exceptional things—including, successfully landing not just one, but several, men on the moon.

And how fitting that, forty years since the inception of Earth Day and our first steps on the moon, another momentous trial imminently awaits our courageous and resourceful attention! In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th Anniversary, Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon encourages you to let these legacies inspire and advance the clean energy and conservation projects already underway in your homes, schools, and communities.

Remember, every action you take toward creating a just and sustainable future is perhaps, one small step for man…and one giant leap for mankind.

And that’s EXACTLY what humanity needs to solve the climate change challenge.

So, cheers to YOU, and cheers to Earth Day for 40 years of innovative environmental stewardship!


Your friends at Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon,
Mollie & Patrick

Want to take action?

Looking for things to do on Earth Day? Check out the CERTs round-up!

40th Anniversary of Earth Day! CERTs is taking this opportunity to highlight events and reflections on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

So, if you’re looking for something to do tomorrow or looking to do a little reflecting on how far we’ve come since the first Earth Day, check out the links below.

I’m sure there are events we’ve forgotten. If you know of something that is going on to celebrate Earth Day that you’d like others to know about, click here to share it on our Facebook page!




Students from across the state will gather in the Rotunda at the Minnesota State Capitol this Earth Day, April 22 from 10am-2pm to talk about actions they’re taking to reduce the carbon footprints of their schools. They’ll be sharing the microphone with legislators and climate leaders who have been working to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green jobs in Minnesota. This is a fantastic opportunity to document innovative clean energy efforts in Minnesota. The event, “Earth Day at the Capitol: Thumbs Up for Clean Energy!” is a celebration of student-led energy efficiency and clean energy projects, Minnesota’s leadership on clean energy and green jobs, and working together to build our clean energy future. Click here for more information about the event.

Stories of Minnesotans saving energy and making their vending machines more profitable: CERTs VendingMiser campaign update

“Why would you have your vending machine lights and compressors on or running when nobody is around?” asked Bill Bieganek of EnergyMisers, LLC, the Minnesota company that sells the “VendingMiser”. You might not know it, but the average beverage vending machine runs more often than is needed to keep drinks cold and attract customers. It also costs around $300 every year to supply it with electricity. Installing a small, simple device called a VendingMiser on a machine can reduce its energy usage by 46% and save approximately $130 per year on energy costs.

A VendingMiser with motion sensor. Image credit: USA Technologies “A VendingMiser is a simple little device that lowers the energy use of a beverage vending machine without affecting its performance,” says Lissa Pawlisch, Statewide Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams. “VendingMisers also reduce operation and compressor maintenance costs on the machines—which has the added benefit of helping them last longer. This is your chance to take action and save big.”

Typically a VendingMiser costs roughly $179, but until May 1st, 2010, groups can participate in a statewide VendingMiser Bulk-Buy Program that will reduce this cost to $164 – if not even further. With numerous utilities across the state offering rebates of $50-$75 per VendingMiser purchase, participating organizations can shorten this payback to as little as one year.

When asked why he was participating, David Pederson, President of Bowlmor Lanes Inc. in Fairmont, responded bluntly that he would take advantage of “Any way to save on my electric cost without a large investment.”

A school building operator installs a VendingMiser above their machine. Image credit: Kirk Conger, Facilities Management, University of Nebraska-Lincoln The Clean Energy Resource Teams, EnergyMisers, LLC, and Minnesota Waste Wise’s Energy Smart are encouraging businesses, schools, local governments, and anyone else with a cold-drink vending machine to join in and save. The primary goal is to place 200 VendingMisers on cold-drink vending machines in Minnesota, resulting in energy savings of over 335,000 kilowatt hours per year—which amounts to roughly $26,800.

The program has been underway for a little less than a month and over 100 VendingMisers have already been ordered. “We’re well on our way to the goal of 200 VendingMisers, and we hope to exceed it by May 1st,” said Joel Haskard, Co-Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams.

Most middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across Minnesota have vending machines that could be using 46% less energy—providing much needed budget dollars for other programs. Kristi Moberg, Local Environmental Focus Team (LEFT) Advisor at Ortonville High School, had this to say: “Our group is participating in the VendingMiser campaign because it will save our school money as well as decrease our carbon footprint by decreasing our electricity usage.”

Many Minnesota cities and counties have vending machines at their government buildings, community centers, or parks. The City of St. Peter was one of the first cities in the state to sign up. “The City of Saint Peter is happy to participate in the VendingMiser Campaign from CERTS as a way to lower energy costs in City buildings for our taxpayers,” said City of Saint Peter Administrator, Todd Prafke. “We believe so strongly in the program that we have been spreading word about the campaign to all our local businesses and organizations and encouraging them to place their orders for the VendingMiser.”

Stephen-Argyle Central High School in northwest MN installed a VendingMiser on their machine. Image credit: Garry Kotts, Teacher, Stephen-Argyle Central High School The City of St. Peter’s municipal utility and 17 others in south-central and southeastern Minnesota get their electricity and other related services from Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA). “SMMPA is excited to support the CERTs VendingMiser Campaign,” remarked John O’Neil, Manager of Energy Efficiency & Member Support Programs. “The special pricing through CERTs combined with our 18 member utilities’ $50 rebate to their customers results in a payback of less than one year. We hope anyone with a beverage vending machine takes advantage of this limited-time opportunity to save energy and money and help make their community a little greener.”

Program partner Jill Curran, Energy Smart Program Manager, urges anyone with a vending machine to take action: “Purchasing a discounted energy efficiency device doesn’t get much easier. The program is well-structured and easy to understand. Energy Smart recommends that you take advantage of this opportunity and start saving today.”

Take Action!

Help us spread the word! Download a press release about the campaign and send it to people you know and local media, or view the press release online here.

CERTified Campaigns The VendingMiser Bulk-Buy Program is the first in a series of “CERTified Campaigns” from the Clean Energy Resource Teams to provide Minnesotans with clear and actionable ways to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in their community. To learn about other campaigns, visit

Solar Energy & Economy Get a Boost from Jobs Bill Passed Today

Electricians install solar energy system on a home Some of the best legislation yet to help consumers, manufacturers and construction workers in the nation became law today in Minnesota, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the Jobs bill—which will bring benefits for clean, renewable energy as well as jobs.

The Jobs bill includes provisions for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which enables local governments to create programs that will allow property owners to make energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energy improvements to their homes or businesses.

Sixteen states have passed similar PACE-enabling legislation. “Minnesota property owners can be part of the solution by tapping into the renewable energy resources that our state is blessed with,” said Ken Bradley, director of Environment Minnesota. “PACE allows building owners to make investments by using energy savings and pay those investments back through property voluntary assessments. This is a program that helps consumers put more money in their pockets at the end of the day!”

Stay tuned to CERTs for more news about PACE. If this is getting you excited about installing a solar energy system, check out our Minnesota solar installers map and other resources!

Thanks to Environment Minnesota and the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association for the news!

West Central CERT April Update

New London students building solar thermal panels Spring is here, the ponds and prairie potholes are opening up, and all across our region good things are happening!

In New London, the NL-S YES! team is building solar thermal panels to help reduce the heating costs for the Little Theatre. In Montevideo community members are learning about passive home construction from architect Tim Eian as part of an ongoing series of presentations in conjunction with the Hill Grocery House project. The ACGC YES! Team hosted an energy and environment fair for some 400 students, while community groups in both the St. Cloud area and Stevens County continued the work of long-term planning for sustainability. If you have stories or events to share about cool things happening in your community let’s talk!

In this month’s West Cental CERT update, you will find information on upcoming events around the region, CERTs campaigns, the latest solar PV news, and information about how CERTs is helping communities connect. Thanks again for sharing, hosting, celebrating, and keeping the renewable energy conversation current for our region.

Click here to download the update >>

Did Someone Say Rebates? Minnesota Stimulus Roundup!

Below are recent stimulus developments from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security.

Energy Saver Rebate Program

As of March 19, 2010 funds for the Energy Saver Rebate Program were fully reserved and the MHFA has temporarily suspended new applications. The Office of Energy Security and MHFA are currently working to provide additional funds for this program. Details will be published on our website and through our stimulus e-mail updates as they become available.

Business Solar Electric Rebates Now Available

Rebates are now available for Minnesota businesses that install solar electric systems. Reservations are available on a first-come, first served basis. Eligible businesses are those with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Systems must be installed by a licensed contractor that meets program participation criteria. Application materials are available in the Rebates & Credits section of our website. For more information, contact us at or 800-657-3710.

Residential Solar Electric Rebate Amounts

Rebate amounts for this program will change soon. For eligible applications submitted by March 31, 2010 and claims submitted by September 30, 2010 the rebate amounts are as follows: For installations performed by a licensed electrical contractor: $1.75 per watt (up to a maximum of $8,750). See application for additional details. For installations performed by a NABCEP certified installer: $2.00 per watt (up to a maximum of $10,000). See application for additional details. Eligible applications received on or after April 1, 2010 will be rebated at a lower amount. Details on rebate amounts for this program are available in the Rebates & Credits section of our website.

Residential Solar Air Heat Rebates

Residential solar air heat rebates are now available. Rebates of up to $2,000 are available for single family homes or up to $4,000 for multi-family 2-3 units. Additional details and application forms are available in the Rebates & Credits section of our website.

Residential Solar Hot Water Rebates

Rebate reservations are still being accepted for this program. Rebates of up to $2,000 are available for single family homes, up to $4,000 for multi-family 2-3 units, and up to $10,000 for multi-family 4+ units. Additional details and application forms are available in the Rebates & Credits section of our website.

Ground Source Heat Pump Rebate Application

The application for Minnesota’s new Residential Ground Source Heat Pump Rebates is available in the Rebates & Credits section of Rebates are available until all funds are expended.

  • Terms and Conditions include: Rebates for 35% of eligible system and installation costs, up to $10,000, are available for qualifying ground source heat pump installations at an applicant’s primary residence. Systems beginning construction after February 16, 2010 must submit an application to reserve rebate funding. All information in the Rebate Reservation Application Documentation section must be submitted. Installations completed on or after July 1, 2009 may be eligible for a rebate if all program requirements are met. All information in the checklist must be submitted.
  • Note on System Capacity Limit: It is stated in the application materials that the system capacity limit is 5.5 tons. An application can be submitted for a conditional rebate reservation for a larger system. We may be able to rebate such a system, pending a U.S. Department of Energy decision. We will announce the outcome of that decision to applicants.
  • New Resources Section: A list of links is now available in the Ground Source Heat Pump section of our website. Includes information on types of systems and how to find an installer.

Stimulus Programs Tracking

A new Tracking section is available on our website to show the status of stimulus-funded rebates and RFPs. The information will be updated on a regular basis.

CERTs Website Now Available for Mobile Phones

CERTs on your mobile phone More and more of you have been visiting the CERTs site on your mobile phones, and we now have content just for you! You can take CERTs with you on the go with our mobile content.

Take out your phone and save into your mobile browser’s bookmarks!

Best Mobile Content:
CERTs Blog
Case Studies
Press & Media Updates
Learn, Connect or Act

Mobile Social Media:

Let us know about your experience and how we can make CERTs mobile better. Email Dan Thiede at with any feedback.

Thanks to for providing mobile content for the CERTs blog, press and case studies.

CERTs blog, press & case studies powered by MoFuse

New clean energy directory: Find companies and be found with REDI Resources!

REDI Resources CERTs is pleased to join Southwest Initiative Foundation, Windustry, and The Minnesota Project in publicly launching REDI Resources, a tool poised to be the premier online company directory for Minnesotans who want to plan clean energy projects, beginning with wind!

What is REDI Resources? REDI Resources is an online directory featuring companies all over the United States who serve Minnesota’s clean energy industry. With plans to expand into other technologies in the future, the directory is currently focused on wind energy. For those planning projects, there could not be a simpler way to find companies who provide exactly the services you need. For companies in the industry, there could not be an easier way to be found and expand your portfolio. Check out the site now at

Find Companies: The REDI Resources directory allows you to browse companies; to search by specific services like engineering, operations & maintenance, or legal services; to find companies near you using geographic search; and to find companies through a range of other details like service area, number of employees, or completed project capacity. Visit the directory at

Create a Portfolio: Once you have found companies that you want to follow up with you can create a portfolio that allows you to tag them, organize them, and export your lists to a PDF. Compiling a list of qualified companies for your request for proposals just got a whole lot easier! Create an account and get started at

Be Found: There are currently around forty companies in the REDI Resources directory—there could not be a better time to add your company! Add your company right now at by following our four simple steps. We will have you create an account, change your password, add your company, then add at least one office location—that’s all!

A sample screen shot from the REDI Resources directory:

Did we mention it’s free? REDI Resources is a completely free service for those planning projects or for companies who want to be found.

Who is behind REDI Resources? REDI is short for the Rural Energy Development Initiative, a statewide program administered by the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF). The goal of REDI is to maximize rural economic development and stabilize rural economies by building renewable energy capacity, expertise and leadership throughout Minnesota. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is launching REDI Resources in partnership with The Minnesota Project, Windustry and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs).

Video & Photos: CERTified Campaigns Launched at MRES 30th Anniversary Gala

Lissa Pawlisch and Diana McKeown of the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) announce the launch of the new CERTified Campaigns at the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s 30th Anniversary Gala on February 19th, 2010.

The CERTified Campaigns program will provide Minnesotans with clear and actionable ways to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in their community. To learn about other campaigns, visit

This video features Diana and Lissa congratulating MRES for 30 outstanding years of service, giving a shout out to all of the Minnesota community groups working so hard to build Minnesota’s clean energy future, and announcing the launch of the new CERTified Campaigns.

The MRES event featured guest speaker author Paul Hawken and emcee news anchor Don Shelby. Click here to learn more about the event and MRES. See images from the event below. If the slideshow doesn’t work, click here to see our event photo album.

Save the Date for the CERTs 2011 Conference!

February 2-3, 2011
Saint Cloud Civic Center
10 4th Avenue South, Saint Cloud, MN 56301

Join CERTs and hundreds of other Minnesotans for our fourth biennial conference! CERTs connects you and your community members with resources to identify and implement energy efficiency & renewable energy projects. The conference website will continue to grow as the event approaches at

CERTs 2011 will be a great place for your organization to be seen!
CERTs 2011 sponsor and exhibitor info will be available soon! We anticipate that our rates will be similar to last year, so download the 2009 Sponsor & Exhibitor Packet so that you can plan CERTs 2011 into your budget now. Sign up to stay in the loop at

Nominate a CERTs 2011 Planning Committee Member Today!
CERTs is working to put together a Planning Committee for next year’s conference, and we need your help. Tell us about an energy geek or sparkplug in your community who would be an outstanding addition to our team! And don’t be afraid to nominate yourself! Email the person’s name, title, organization, email and phone, along with why you think they would make a great Planning Committee member to Maggie Kozak at

  • What makes a good Planning Committee member?
    • Expertise or interest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or community development
    • Can attend eight conference calls from May to December and work a little in between
    • Connected to the community in a significant way
    • Enthusiastic about working collaboratively as part of a group
    • Interest and experience planning events
    • Understands CERTs’ audience
    • Plans to attend CERTs 2011 on February 2-3, 2011
  • What will the Planning Committee members do?
    • Help set goals and key themes for CERTs 2011
    • Identify and recruit event sponsors and exhibitors
    • Outline overall agenda sessions, keynote speakers, and more
    • Plan individual sessions in their area of expertise or interest
    • Spread the word about the conference in their circles of influence
    • Attend CERTs 2011 and enjoy the fruits of their labor!
    • Get recognized for your leadership by people across the state!

Learn more about the CERTs 2011 and past events at


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Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

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