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Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards Community Program
Frank Jossi
Fri, 12/11/2015 - 1:14pm
This post was originally published in Midwest Energy News by Frank Jossi. One year after Xcel Energy’s community solar program was launched in Minnesota, only one project—out of more than 1,500 proposed—has been built. But the utility, as well as solar backers in the state, expect the pace to pick up significantly in the coming year. Xcel has sent out 120 megawatts of interconnection agreements and received signed documents from 46 applicants representing 43 MW at 13 sites, said Lee Gabler, senior director of customer strategy and solutions. Once those agreements are signed, developers move on to the design and construction...
USDA RD - Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
Joel Haskard
Thu, 12/10/2015 - 2:58pm
See what we did there with the blog post title? REAP also stands for Rural Energy for American Program, a grant and loan offering from USDA Rural Development that can help farmers and rural small businesses do renewable energy and energy efficiency work. As a new deadline is approaching on May 2, 2016, we thought it would be timely to check in with Ron Omann, Minnesota’s State Energy Coordinator with USDA Rural Development, to get all of the necessary details. Joel Haskard: What was REAP funding like for Minnesota this last round? Ron Omann: Rural Development was able to assist nearly 80 projects with the amount of funding allocated to...
Steps to a cozy, energy-efficient home
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 12/07/2015 - 2:27pm
We’re pretty sure that winter is here, even if it’s been a bit hesitant. As the temperature drops and we turn on our heat, there are many things we can do to keep the warm air in and our heating bills down. The following no-cost and low-cost tips will help Minnesotans save energy, reduce utility bills, and keep their homes safe this heating season.   Energy-saving tips:   Set your thermostat low; use a programmable thermostat. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when you are at home. Turn down the temperature about 10 degrees—manually or via programmable thermostat—at night when you go to bed and when you’re not at home. This can reduce your heating bill by 10 percent or more. Weather strip and caulk windows and doors to reduce air infiltration. Cover drafty windows with tightly sealed plastic to keep the warm air in. Open...
Attendees of the opening ceremony stand in front of the new ballasted system. The 6 inches of snow from the past two days had nearly disappeared from the panels by the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning
Jamie Johnson
Thu, 12/03/2015 - 12:39pm
While we shouldn’t thank our forefathers for leaving behind landfills and the environmental consequences that accompany them, it is becoming increasingly possible to see some green among those brownfields. In the City of Hutchinson, this green to brown transformation is underway. With a solar field just beginning operations on a former landfill, there is quite a green and golden lining to a brown past. Built on the site of a 1970s era city dump, the 400 kilowatt array just hooked up, behind the meter, to the wastewater treatment plant next door, helping offset energy use for the city’s largest municipal energy consumer. There it will be used to transform another brown environmental problem blue. This Wednesday, elected officials and electricians alike stood atop the snow-covered landfill to celebrate the solar site coming online....
Video: Improving Your Home’s Performance
Alexis Troschinetz
Tue, 12/01/2015 - 4:56pm
A new 30-minute program on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) captures the importance of having an advanced home energy assessment and the big dividends to be earned from prescribed home improvements. The program, called Improving Your Home’s Performance, takes the homeowner through the process of getting a home energy assessment, identifying problems, taking action, and measuring successes. The video is produced by TPT and the Minnesota Building Performance Association, with major funding provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce (through U.S. Department of Energy funds) and additional support from six Minnesota utilities. Watch the video below! The Get Answers series on the Energy Stories Blog offers useful tips...
EnergyScoreCards Minnesota
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 12/01/2015 - 4:44pm
Results from EnergyScoreCards Minnesota, a two-year controlled experiment that included over 550 buildings, found that energy and water benchmarking work as an energy efficiency measure for multifamily buildings in Minnesota. Bright Power and its project partners discovered a 5% energy savings and 30% water savings in the second year among master-metered buildings (i.e., in buildings where owners pay all utilities used onsite) for the group that used EnergyScoreCards benchmarking compared to the control group that did not. Click here to download a report about the program >>
LED lighting in Lango farms barn
Fritz Ebinger
Mon, 11/23/2015 - 2:15pm
Minnesota is the #1 turkey producing and processing state in the U.S., with 450 family farmers raising approximately 44 million to 46 million turkeys annually. The cost of energy can have a big impact on the cost of food. So as new technologies have emerged that help turkey farmers reduce the use of electricity in their barns, many have started to make the switch with simple upgrades like LED lighting. With up to 85% savings, switching from high pressure sodium or incandescent lighting to LED lighting presents the greatest savings opportunity. “A 2013 study of LED lighting in turkey barns showed that switching to LED lighting led to calmer birds and no measurable poultry production decrease,” shared Fritz Ebinger, CERTs Rural Energy Development Manager with University of Minnesota Extension and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. “These positive study...
Attendees discuss our energy future
Lissa Pawlisch
Tue, 11/17/2015 - 12:39pm
During the month of October, 2015, folks in Mankato, Staples, and Grand Rapids had a chance to share their input on the Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan. CERTs hosted these three events (as well as an event in St. Paul) to gather feedback, with attendees participating in small group discussions on two of these five topics: Energy planning Industry & agriculture Buildings & energy efficiency Mobility, transportation & fuels Energy supply & grid modernization “It was great getting input from such diverse stakeholders across the state,” said Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director. “Folks in every region noted the need to scale up energy efficiency in existing buildings, and there was real interest in distributed energy systems with the recent boom in solar, continued growth in wind energy, and opportunities for greater use of biomass.” We want your input, too...
Thank you note from the teacher
Joel Haskard
Sun, 11/08/2015 - 1:49pm
Looking for a CERTs Seed Grant project example that educated students and the greater community about energy efficiency AND reduces costs AND improves the lighting quality? Look no further than the Madison, Marietta, Nassau Elementary School! Madison, Minnesota (pop. 1,551) is located in West Central Minnesota. Back in 2014, the gymnasium at the elementary school was in sore need of better lighting, and the students were primed and pumped for the retrofit. “The school had completed a partnership with the City of Madison Bright Energy Solutions—an energy saving education program—for the 4th grade class that school year,” says Principal Kipp Stender. “The program taught students about the importance and ways to implement energy efficiency savings with their parents at home. The lighting retrofit at the school was an additional way to show the students how energy savings...
Clean Energy Project Builder
Dan Thiede
Fri, 10/30/2015 - 1:08pm
Interest in solar energy and community solar gardens has exploded this year in Minnesota, and people are hungry for tools that can help them move forward. To meet the demand, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) has relaunched the Clean Energy Project Builder website, which helps people find companies that can help them plan, implement, and manage clean energy projects (and now much more). The most exciting new feature on the website is a directory of the available Community Solar Gardens (CSGs) in the state. People can visit the website and choose their electric utility and county to see the gardens available to them for subscription. There are already 27 community solar gardens on the website, with more being added every week....
REAP recipients Popp Farm
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 2:45pm
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that USDA is awarding 34 grants that will help Minnesota rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. Funding will go towards energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems. “As more and more rural business owners and ag producers incorporate renewable energy and energy efficient measures into their business plans, the more they contribute to the economic sustainability of rural America,” Landkamer said. “This funding will help implement these energy-saving measures. These actions not only help them save on annual energy costs, but also reduce their environmental footprint.” USDA is providing $1.6 million in grants for 34 projects, throughout the state of Minnesota, financed through the...
Minnesota Department of Commerce
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 11:57am
Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), a nationally-recognized energy efficiency program, generates at least four dollars in benefits for every dollar invested, according to an independent analysis released today by the Minnesota Commerce Department. With regulatory oversight and technical assistance from the Commerce Department, CIP is a statewide program funded and administered by more than 180 utilities to help Minnesota households and businesses reduce their consumption of electricity and natural gas. “This comprehensive study makes it clear that energy efficiency is a smart, positive investment for our state,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The Conservation Improvement Program not only saves energy and reduces utility bills for Minnesota consumers and businesses. It also creates jobs, boosts our economy and protects our environment.” Conducted...
Attendees networking at the brewery
Joel Haskard
Thu, 10/15/2015 - 6:08pm
On Thursday, October 1st, over thirty folks gathered in New London’s Little Theatre to learn about the people, organizations, and funding opportunities to help them get their clean energy projects done. Erin Smith, the West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Coordinator, led things off with a welcome and introductions. After that, a panel of utility experts gave an update on the resources and rebates they had to offer for their utility customers: Dan Tepfer, Kandiyohi Power Wes Hompe, General Manager, and Dave Opsahl, Willmar Public Utilities Ryan L. Bruers, Xcel Energy (New London service territory) – Download his presentation Afterwards, Erin gave an overview of the...
Recent community solar tour in Pelican Rapids
Maggie Kozak
Sun, 09/20/2015 - 1:01pm
Want to have a voice in Minnesota’s clean energy future? Participate in the upcoming Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan events! CERTs will host four (4) events to gather feedback from Minnesotans statewide. Attendees will have a chance to participate in small group discussions on two of these five topics: Energy planning Industry & agriculture Buildings & energy efficiency Mobility, transportation & fuels Energy supply & grid modernization Save your spot! Register at the links below or call 612-626-0555. Mankato – October 14th Staples – October 20th Grand Rapids – October 29th Saint Paul – October 22nd during...
Bonnie, grocery store owner in Clinton, MN
Joel Haskard
Tue, 09/15/2015 - 5:30pm
Bonnie Hometown Grocery is often the center of action for folks in Clinton, Minnesota (pop. 450). As owner of the store, Bonnie Carlson knows that the store is not only needed for groceries, but also provides a civic and social gathering place. She has to be creative looking for resources, and has held more than one community fundraiser to make sure her business survives. With an old, inefficient freezer adding high energy costs to her bottom line, she applied for a Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Seed Grant to help pay the installation costs. In addition to the grant, Bonnie’s had a very successful Kickstarter campaign ($17,965 raised from 75 backers!). With this combined funding the grocery store was able to install brand new, energy...
Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program
Diana McKeown
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 3:12pm
The Made in Minnesota (MiM) Solar Program is a lottery-based incentive available to Minnesotans who install solar equipment that is made in Minnesota. Metro CERT Director Diana McKeown sat down with Kim Havey, Made in Minnesota Solar Program Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, to learn more about the program and how it’s working in the state. Diana McKeown: How do you describe the Made in Minnesota Solar Program to people? Kim Havey: Made in Minnesota (MiM) is a program designed to grow jobs within the solar industry in Minnesota and support the installation of solar PV and thermal for residents and businesses. The program is ideally designed for residential and business rooftop solar installations but also can be used for ground mounted installations, which is ideal for farms. Legislation in...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Wed, 09/02/2015 - 5:53pm
Do you and your community need funding to get an energy efficiency or renewable energy project off the ground? The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) can help! CERTs seeks to provide Seed Grants to support the labor costs for clean energy projects that spur community development in Minnesota. Project proposals should be for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that also provide forums for community education about the technologies and their economic, ecological, and community benefits. “Since 2006, CERTs has awarded more than $930,000 to over 230 projects,” said Lissa Pawlisch, Clean Energy Resource Teams Director. “Those projects ranged from energy efficiency for a food cooperative to solar power for schools, and much more.” Past projects can be seen at http://projects.mncerts.org. Highlights...
Tesla Powerwall
Isaac Mielke
Fri, 08/21/2015 - 7:48am
Tesla generated much publicity after its April introduction of the Powerwall. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it stores electricity for consumption, load shifting, and backup power. Intended for residential purposes, Tesla has partnered with SolarCity to sell the 10 kWh Powerwall systems for $5,000. The Powerwall can store solar energy from your solar panels and act as a backup power source during a power failure. It collects cheap energy from off-peak hours and releases it during peak consumption time, flattening demand spikes and saving money. Powered by renewable energy, this battery sits on a wall and autonomously switches on. One 10 kWh Powerwall supports a refrigerator, computer, lighting, alarm systems, and electrical outlets—and an optional second Powerwall completes the household. A 7 kWh model will also be...


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