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No Minnesotan should be without a warm place to call home during this bitterly cold winter
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 2:20pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced yesterday that Minnesota will receive an additional $15,814,434 in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The total amount of funds Minnesota has received this year is $114,540,746. The LIHEAP program in Minnesota helps low-income homeowners and renters pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers. This announcement is critical for Minnesota’s low-income households, especially those with seniors, young children, veterans, and people with disabilities. The ongoing sub-zero, arctic weather and sky-rocketing propane prices have added additional stress to family budgets. To address this need, the Department of Commerce recently increased crisis benefits from $500 to $1,000 for households that heat with...
Lindsay Wimmer
Thu, 01/23/2014 - 5:01pm
Interviewee: John D. Paulson, Environmental Specialist, City of Hutchinson Interviewer: Lindsay Wimmer, GESP Outreach Coordinator, Clean Energy Resource Teams The City of Hutchinson used an energy savings performance contract to finance and upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant and retrofit to more efficient lighting in their City Hall, Library, Liquor Store, and Recreation Center. Energy performance contracts are a turnkey implementation method to audit facilities, install upgrades, and pay for those upgrades over a period of time with the resulting savings in the operations and maintenance budgets. Further, the energy savings are guaranteed by the energy service company, and if the upgrades do not result in the determined savings, the energy service company is responsible to pay for the difference. Total Project Cost: $375,114 Guaranteed Annual Savings: $32,571 Actual Annual...
MBPA
Alexis Troschinetz
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 11:30am
CERTs Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator Alexis Troschinetz attended the 1st Annual Social of the Minnesota Building Performance Association (MBPA) in Fall 2013. More than 30 people gathered at Indeed Brewery in Minneapolis to sip the delicious brews and “talk shop.” The MPBA leadership, comprised of Rebecca Olson as President, Ross Anderson as Secretary, and John Fedora as Treasurer, gave opening remarks that gave a sense of where MBPA is headed for 2014. For those unfamiliar with MPBA, their mission is to promote safe, comfortable, durable and energy efficient homes with improved air quality, comfort, moisture control, and affordability. Their vision for MPBA is to work toward becoming THE resource for building energy information in Minnesota. To achieve this vision, they’ve set the following three goals for 2014: Increase membership: MPBA wants to...
Made In Minnesota Solar Thermal program begins 2014
Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:46am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that it will begin to offer rebates for solar thermal systems starting in 2014 as part of its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program for both solar electric and solar thermal. The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota” solar thermal systems in the state. The solar thermal system may be installed in residential or commercial facilities for, among other uses, hot water or space heating purposes. A solar thermal system is “Made in Minnesota” if components of the system are manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system is certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. Currently, the solar thermal systems certified for the solar thermal rebate program are available from three Minnesota companies:...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:20pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce the projects awarded Seed Grants in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions. Most regions awarded $20,000 worth of seed grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state. The funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. There were 34 seed grants awarded in total, across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach and community building, and research. Read on for all of the details! Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal. Since 2006, CERTs has awarded $922,500 to more than 223 projects. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs-Supported Projects page....
Solar Powering Minnesota
Dan Thiede
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:07pm
There’s been a lot of exciting action on solar energy in Minnesota in 2013. To keep the momentum going, we’d like to invite you to save the date for Solar Powering Minnesota, a conference that will take place in Saint Paul, MN on Friday, March 7, 2014. We have great news: Minh Le—the Program Manager of the Solar Energy Technologies Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy—has been confirmed as our keynote speaker to kick off the conference in the morning. Minh Le helps manage and balance the portfolio of research, development, demonstration, and deployment programs for the national SunShot Initiative. Prior to his current role at DOE, Minh spent his career in industry developing technologies and scaling new technologies to high-volume manufacturing. Minh earned his SB and SM degrees from MIT where he...
Duluth steam plant
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:54pm
Since the 1930s, Duluth, Minnesota, has continually drawn frigid water from Lake Superior, heated it to steam in a coal-fired boiler, then pushed that steam through a network of pipes to provide heat for downtown businesses. The city is now studying its options for modernizing the aging system to make it more flexible, economical, and sustainable. A consultant’s master plan presented Monday to the City Council recommends adding sawdust as a fuel source and converting steam lines into a more efficient, closed-loop hot water system. “If we are going to own this, we are going to bring this steam plant into the 21st century,” David Montgomery, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview. “We want to turn this into a real asset, which we think it can become, from an...
How a Condensing Boiler Works
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:46pm
The market share of condensing boilers, sometimes called high-efficiency boilers, has increased dramatically over the last several years, thanks in part to utility programs that provide rebates. Unfortunately, many of these newly installed condensing boilers only achieve a fraction of their expected ideal case energy savings. Center for Energy and Environment’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Russ Landry explains why, and offers solutions to optimize their performance. When a boiler burns natural gas to heat water, it produces both carbon dioxide and water vapor—which is really just diluted steam. In a conventional boiler all of this steam goes right out the chimney with most of its potential heating energy wasted: The lost heat up the flue results in an annual fuel utilization efficiency of about 80 percent for conventional boilers. In order to increase boiler...
USDA Rural Development
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:20pm
A total of 100 rural small business and agriculture producers in Minnesota were assisted by funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in 2013. Funding for 75 of these projects was recently announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien announced funding for the first 25 projects back in August during his visit to Minnesota to advocate for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill at Minnesota’s 2013 IDEAg Farmfest show. The 2013 REAP funding will provide $2.3 million to Minnesota-based rural small businesses and farmers who will then leverage personal funds and other incentives to construct $10 million worth of projects throughout the state. The total number of projects funded and total dollars awarded represent the second highest in the nation and reflect Minnesota’s continued success in securing REAP...
Torrefaction Diagram
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:52am
Douglas Tiffany, assistant extension professor at the University of Minnesota, discussed the economics of co-locating torrefaction, ethanol and coal power plants at the University of North Dakota on Nov. 6. “What we wanted to get an idea of was what would be the rates of return on equity for torrefaction plants and how that use of biocoal could help coal-fired power plants comply with new regulations that are hanging over their head at this time,” Tiffany said. After the cost of biomass, an independent torrefaction plant may face a production cost of $42 per finished ton, Tiffany explained. However, if the plant was able to sell a certain amount of steam and gases, the cost would be estimated at $17 per ton. “A co-located torrefaction plant where it has an opportunity to sell those gases would be enjoying 16 percent rates of return on equity versus six percent without that [...
Solar Gardens Survey
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:52pm
The development of community solar gardens is a potentially exciting opportunity that will allow individuals to join with others in their community to advance clean energy projects. CERTs is working to develop materials and resources to help individuals and communities better understand what this opportunity does—and doesn’t—mean for them. We’re asking you to participate in a survey so that we can better understand what your needs are to make informed decisions about this emerging solar arena. We hope you’ll help! Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. If you agree to participate in this study, we will ask you to complete an online survey (linked to below) that should take approximately 10 minutes. Please review the consent language before agreeing to be in the study. Of course, should you have any...
Made-In-Minnesota Solar
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:14pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 22 the 2014 incentive amounts for its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, to launch Jan. 1 2014. Made in Minnesota was one of several initiatives enacted by the 2013 Legislature to increase deployment of solar energy throughout the state. It will help achieve the state’s new solar electricity standard, which calls for 1.5 percent of electric sales from investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) to come from solar electricity by 2020. The incentives for solar electric systems from the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be available to customers of investor-owned utilities who install solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV), systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. Modules from two Minnesota...
Spanish language energy education resources
Joel Haskard
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:25pm
There are a lot of great educational resources out there to help people understand their clean energy options, but often language barriers can get in the way. Now, for Spanish-language learners, there is a nice collection of clean energy resources available. Thanks to a generous grant from the Carolyn Foundation, Do It Green! Minnesota is distributing a number of exciting new handouts on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Spanish! Materials Available: Lista de Energía / Energy Checklist – a step-by-step list of easy tasks to do throughout the year to save energy Alternativos de energía renovable en Minnesota / Renewable Energy Alternatives in Minnesota – two informative articles about the different types of renewable energy available in Minnesota Preguntas de Energía / Energy Trivia Questions – good for...
Recycle Your Holidays
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 11/18/2013 - 5:18pm
Ever wonder what to do with the tangled mess of lights that marks the start of many Minnesotans holiday season? Ring in the holidays by getting rid of old, broken, inefficient light strands and upgrading to new, efficient LED holiday lights! CERTs is partnering again with the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) for the 2013-2014 holiday season on Recycle Your Holidays™. RAM recycles every part of the light strings—the metal wires, the plastic casing, and even the lights themselves. We’re providing a map of drop-off locations that are accepting holiday lights, and it’s also possible for you to sign up as a location. Click here to see map of drop-off locations >> Become a drop-off site: From Ely to Fairmont and everywhere in between, any business or organization can participate as a collection site at NO COST. It is a great way to provide a value...
A full workshop on GESP in Mankato
Lindsay Wimmer
Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:00pm
On November 6, 2013 in Mankato the Energy Service Coalition in Minnesota hosted a workshop for government, energy service company, and utility staff to talk about the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), a technical and financial solution to install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable technologies in publicly owned buildings. GESP utilizes energy performance contracting to identify, finance, and install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy, with additional technical, financial, and contractual assistance by the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources to help with the EPC process for the public sector, including local units of government. The workshop...
Button up your house
Mary LaLone - Xcel Energy
Tue, 10/29/2013 - 3:15pm
Have you ever wondered why “fall cleaning” isn’t as popular as “spring cleaning?” With winter comes more time indoors and more indoor entertaining. It seems the perfect time of year to be sure your home is cozy and buttoned up! Here’s a checklist to help keep this season’s winter wonderland outside…   The Furnace Move materials away from the furnace, especially flammable materials. Check your pilot light. If it isn’t burning, follow the instructions for relighting which are typically printed on access doors. You can also find information on the manufacturer’s website—that’s where you should go to learn about maintenance requirements for your equipment. If you have difficulty, call a qualified heating contractor for advice. Vacuum out any dust or debris in and around the unit, especially the blower. Replace the filter if needed...
Chickens
Fritz Ebinger
Fri, 10/25/2013 - 2:32pm
The energy savings potential of LED lighting systems and other energy efficiency opportunities in poultry barns were described in a “Field Day” on Oct. 11 in Willmar, MN that attracted poultry farmers, utility reps, and energy efficiency specialists from the Upper Midwest. The Minnesota Project and Once Innovations, partners in a test-pilot CARD project on LED lighting systems in Minnesota poultry barns, were featured. Fritz Ebinger, program manager of The Minnesota Project, shared how the cost-share CARD project has installed 1,800 LED lights across 17 barns in Minnesota to save an estimated 347,000 kWh per year. As an example, he noted how one barn in the project that replaced its incandescent lamps with LEDs used 53,455 kWh/yr of electricity with incandescent lights...
Westbrook-Walnut Grove YES! students helping to install a wind turbine at their school
Aleta Kolan
Wed, 10/16/2013 - 1:56pm
Driving through rural Minnesota you are apt to see impressive displays of renewable energy: wind farms, solar arrays, and ethanol plants come to mind. Additional efforts to promote renewable energy and energy conservation have been popping up in rural Minnesota communities thanks to Youth Energy Summit (YES!) teams. YES!, a program partnership between Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC), is a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and issues in rural Minnesota communities. This past school year half of the 32 YES! teams chose to work on projects directly related to renewable energy and energy conservation. Several of these teams decided to pursue solar projects last school year. The...

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