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Right Light App for energy-efficient LED bulbs
Dan Thiede
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:17am
“All I wanted was a light bulb that would look and feel the same as my old bulb,” said Shaina Brassard, a Minneapolis resident. “When you go to the store you have so many choices now—it can be confusing.” It’s been a few years since new national light bulb efficiency standards took effect, and Brassard and others like her are seeing a lot more energy-saving LED—short for light emitting diode—options on store shelves, and that has made bringing home the right bulb a sometimes annoying process of trial and error. Enter the Right Light App, released today during Energy Awareness Month and Energy Efficiency Day, a free tool available at http://rightlightapp.org that helps people find just the bulb they need. “The app took me step by step through different options, and even made helpful suggestions...
Dan Thiede
Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:42pm
Wondering what strategies were particularly effective for CERTs Seed Grant recipients in 2016? Below are the top ten things that come out of their project reflections. Now we can all benefit from them!   1. Grow community support for your project early.   Taking the time to get strong support insured that projects proceeded regardless of funding sources, staffing, and other challenges. Many grantees relied on their strong community relationships to remove barriers necessary to get their projects done. Getting this support also helped them understand the broad range of local interests and needs.   2. Partner up.   Nearly all of the Seed Grant projects included some kind of partnership, giving them access to a wide array of expertise, audiences, funding, volunteers, and other resources. Key stakeholders included local government staff,...
In 2016 there were 57,351 clean energy jobs in MN
Dan Thiede
Thu, 09/07/2017 - 2:49pm
Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) today released a new report called Clean Jobs Midwest from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs that finds that Minnesota now has 57,351 total clean energy jobs. In the last 12 months, Minnesota’s clean energy industry grew by 5.3 percent, adding 2,893 jobs—3.8 times faster than overall job growth in the state. Despite the rapid growth that has already occurred, clean energy technology continues to present a significant opportunity for business and job growth. “This report tells the story of how Minnesota’s rapid transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy is driving job creation all across our state,” said Gregg Mast, executive director of...
SolSmart
Trevor Drake
Tue, 08/15/2017 - 2:22pm
Almost every time we give a community presentation on solar, somebody asks about how the costs of the technology are changing and whether it’s best to wait to “go solar.” It’s a smart question, and indeed the costs of the physical components of solar projects are being driven down by market forces (though arguably not quick enough to warrant waiting). The trouble with this question is that it misses the target in seeing what’s most important, which is not just the cost of hardware but the final cost of an installed system. The non-hardware “soft costs” of solar, which include the costs incurred to solar developers (and passed onto system owners or subscribers) for navigating local zoning regulations, pulling permits, and providing financing options to customers, can total as much as 64% of the cost of a residential solar installation, according to the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:16am
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that Minnesota has received an additional $13 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program. This second and final installment of funding means that Minnesotans who qualified for energy assistance after money ran out in mid-April and who applied before the May 31 program deadline will now receive assistance to pay their heating bills from the past winter. Minnesota received $101 million, or the bulk of its federal energy assistance funding, last October. The new federal installment brings the 2016-2017 heating season total to $114 million. “The heating season is over, but many Minnesotans who were counting on help to pay their heating bills will get the help they need,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy office. “Many Minnesotans struggle...
New solar-powered LED lit signs welcome people to Slayton
Annette Fiedler
Wed, 07/12/2017 - 12:46pm
Three signs welcoming people to the City of Slayton are now illuminated using the power of the sun. The new entrance signs use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power energy-efficient LED light bulbs. The signs are backlit with LED lights. A 280-watt solar panel was installed to power each of the three signs, and battery systems are used so that the signs can remain off the grid, avoiding expensive connections to electric lines. Josh Malchow, Slayton’s City Administrator, reported that “After considering the overall cost of running power to the sites or using solar, the city felt that choosing solar power was the best option.” The City of Slayton received a $2,025 Seed Grant from the Southwest Clean Energy Resource Team (SW CERT) to install the signs. Annette Fiedler, SW CERT Coordinator, said that “the SW CERT Seed Grant funds were used to help offset the labor cost to install...
Leaping into action
Peter Lindstrom
Tue, 07/11/2017 - 1:07pm
With the knowledge that energy can account for as much as 10 percent of a local government’s annual operating budget, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently launched the Local Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP). LEEP has a straightforward aim: Assist local governments with completing energy audits.   Why save energy? “Because improving the energy efficiency of city halls, schools and courthouses is a cost-effective strategy to address facility maintenance needs, help stimulate the local economy, create jobs, expand markets for energy-efficient technologies, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Alex Cecchini, LEEP Program Manager. Local governments can also lead by example through improving energy efficiency in their own operations, motivating the private sector and other stakeholders to...
Saving Watts and Drops
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:39pm
Minnesota utilities: Join CERTs in a webinar to hear all about our new campaign, Saving Watts and Drops. We’re focusing on utilities in this first wave of outreach on the campaign because utilities are such a big potential partner. Feel free to get acquainted with the campaign at savingwattsdrops.org. Saving Watts and Drops is rooted in the idea that many small energy savings throughout Minnesota will add up to big energy savings together. One option of the campaign helps youth and community groups conduct fundraisers with plug-and-play energy and water saving products in collaboration with their electric or natural gas utilities. Another option helps cities, community-level organizations, utilities, or other interested parties in distributing energy-saving products for free or at a low cost using one’s...
Joel Haskard
Thu, 06/08/2017 - 2:26pm
Join us as we dive a little deeper into two web resources for the electric vehicle shopper, mncharging.org and evsalespro.com. We interviewed several EV experts, utility staff, and EV sales personnel to learn more.   First, to learn more about mncharging.org, we reached out to Jukka Kukkonen, founder of PlugInConnect, LLC. Jukka, tell us a little about this new tool. Jukka Kukkonen: The mncharging.org webpage provides an easy way for people to find their local electric utility’s resources for EVs. They just pick their utility from a drop-down list and are immediately directed to the utility’s webpage on the topic. The purchase of an electric vehicle is not an event, it is a...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 06/01/2017 - 3:24pm
On a bright, sunny Minnesota spring day, with solar panels in the background, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that the state is enjoying dramatic growth in solar power, adding nearly as much new solar capacity in just the first three months of 2017 as in all of 2016. Rothman announced the latest solar statistics at the Schneiderman’s Furniture store in Plymouth, a Twin Cities suburb. The local family-owned furniture retailer has installed rooftop solar power systems at its Plymouth, Woodbury and Duluth stores, with support from state solar incentives. The solar projects were developed by Ideal Energies, a Minnesota-based commercial solar energy developer with over 140 commercial systems in operation. “Solar is already a bright spot in Minnesota’s energy picture, and it’s getting even bigger and brighter,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy...
City of Trimont water tower
Sophie Lutz
Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:49pm
The City of Trimont in South Central Minnesota is leading the way for small cities looking to revamp their street lighting and improve their buildings. The city recently transitioned to LED street lights and updated the heating and cooling systems in their Community Building. It all started when Jim Haler at South Central Electric Association brought the Southwest CERT Seed Grant opportunity to the city’s attention. We interviewed Mike Paulson, Public Works Supervisor with the City of Trimont, to learn more about the project and how it went. Can you tell us what this project is all about?   Mike Paulson: The City of Trimont’s energy efficiency project had two parts: updates to the Community Building and new street lights. Community Building: The Trimont Community Building was finished in 1994, and the heating and cooling systems were original to the building....
Fully loaded power strip | Photo by Richard Drew, AP
Dan Thiede
Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:39pm
Recently, Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio published a story all about the rising energy use of our personal workstations—that mess of cords at your desk powering all of your stuff. Read on for an interesting analysis and useful tips for reducing your load! “Dual monitors, cellphone chargers, coffee makers, space heaters. If you have one or more of them plugged in at your workspace, you’re part of a growing problem in building efficiency. LED lighting and changes to heating and cooling systems have cut down on energy use in commercial buildings since 2003. But now, plugload — the energy it takes to power all those things plugged into your desktop power strip — is rising. It’s largely a function of modernity. The tools we use to do our jobs today require a lot...
Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive
Lissa Pawlisch
Wed, 04/05/2017 - 9:30am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce just announced their 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Incentive Program lottery results. This year the program will support 679 new projects and 10.23 MW of capacity—that’s a lot! Minnesota Power’s SolarSense Program also expanded this year. A random selection of applicants for the 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program was completed on March 22, and 679 new residential and commercial solar electric (PV) systems were chosen to receive funding in the fourth year of the 10-year program. The random selection process was conducted by a third-party vendor. Applicants to the 2017 PV incentive program will be notified by the Minnesota Department of Commerce through...
Dan Thiede
Tue, 04/04/2017 - 4:44pm
Every week there has been news of solar installations breaking ground, getting installed, and pumping clean electricity into Minnesota’s grid. It appears we’re definitely in the midst of a solar boom! We pulled together a few of the best recent stories for your perusal. Enjoy!   As energy mix becomes cleaner, Minnesotans paying less for it Midwest Energy News   Consumers have seen flat or declining energy costs as renewable energy becomes a greater part of the energy mix of Minnesota and the nation. That’s one of the findings in the annual 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy....
Joel Haskard
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 1:49pm
There is A LOT happening in the world of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) here in Minnesota. We asked Jukka Kukkonen with PlugInConnect, LLC, to tell us a bit more. The Overview   “This is a year of great developments in Minnesota,” says Jukka. “Auto manufacturers are bringing more plug-in vehicle choices to the market and first affordable battery electric vehicles with over 200 mile range will be available here this fall. Utility companies are working to become energy experts in the transportation area to better assist their customers and auto dealers are realizing the market potential of this new segment. Still there are a lot of questions but fortunately we already have many plug-in vehicle owners who are happy to share their experiences with general public. It is great to work with all these partners and line up things in Minnesota for electrified future of...
CERTs Right Light Guide for LED Tube Lights
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 5:01pm
LED linear tube lights are an emerging energy-efficient technology. With the popularity of the CERTs Right Light Guide, we decided it was high time to offer some basic guidance on LED tubes. This is the second version of the guide with slight revisions from the original.   Why are people considering LED tubes?   Fluorescent lighting is everywhere. Fluorescent lighting is universal. Look up, and you’ll likely find these familiar tubes lining the ceilings of many buildings. Linear fluorescent tubes (LFLs) have largely reached their maximum energy-saving potential, and they also require recycling. LED lighting is a new alternative. LED lighting is rapidly evolving and providing an alternative to LFLs. Building owners and facility managers are adopting LED lighting for its long life span, energy efficiency, and controllability.  ...
Amy Collins
Joel Haskard
Wed, 03/01/2017 - 6:00am
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month. As part of the series we interviewed Amy Collins, Energy Services Field Representative with Missouri River Energy Services, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Amy Collins: I work for Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), a not-for-profit, joint-action agency based out of Sioux Falls, SD that supplies wholesale electricity to 60...
Robin Weis
Joel Haskard
Wed, 03/01/2017 - 6:00am
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month. As part of the series we interviewed Robin Weis, Economic Development Director at Southwest Regional Development Commission, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Robin Weis: Robin is the Economic Development Director at the Southwest Regional Development Commission and the Program Director of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE)...

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