Year in Review

How did CERTs serve Minnesota communities in 2020?

Relationships & Impacts

Looking back at 2020


2021 is off to a fast start, but we wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2020 and the ways the Clean Energy Resource Teams were able to help Minnesotans build clean energy in what was a strange and challenging year.


By the Numbers

Hosted 31 events with over 1,160 attendees

Connected with 5,653 people at 341 forums

Offset 63.2 billion BTUs (same as 1.8M LED bulbs)

Funded 35 Seed Grant projects

We served 283 Minnesota communities



Work Highlights by Audience (click to expand)

CERTs works across the entire state of Minnesota with a wide range of audiences to help them implement clean energy projects. Below is a summary of key work that happened in 2020.

  • GreenStep program: Celebrating 10 years with 137 cities & 4 tribal nations (learn more)
  • Direct solar assistance to jurisdictions: 3 on-site solar projects by Maple Grove & Edina Schools; 2 solar gardens by Saint Paul’s Como Zoo & Hennepin County (learn more)
  • Solar Schools: Launched new resources & shared stories about Pine River-Backus, Morris, Mounds View (learn more)
  • Beneficial Electrification: 14 municipal utilities (including Austin, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Grand Marais, Roseau) joined our EV peer cohort; 18 utilities attended forums in Mt. Iron & Mahnomen on air source heat pumps (learn more)
  • Saving Watts & Drops: Distributed 30,000+ energy saving items with 9 utilities: gas utility MN Energy Resources; co-ops Arrowhead, People’s, East Central; munis Fairmont, Grand Marais, Worthington; IOUs MN Power, Otter Tail Power (learn more)
  • Business Blitzes: 331 business assessments in Appleton, Browns Valley, Canby, Dawson, Graceville, Hendricks, Herman, Hoffman, Lake Benton, Minneota, Wheaton (learn more)
  • PACE: 7 businesses with solar & efficiency projects; Anoka, Freeborn, Watanwon counties sign PACE JPA (learn more)
  • New Tools: Energy saving equipment on the farm and on-farm solar (learn more)
  • Direct Support: Solar leasing guidance, solar site assessments, financing options (learn more)
  • Food Shelves: Advanced partnerships with utilities to distribute 28,000 bulbs to households through 24 food shelves (learn more)
  • Manufactured Homes: Engaged 514 units across 10 parks in Detroit Lakes, Faribault, Northfield with weatherization kits and education (learn more)
  • Under 5%: Advancing partnerships and strategies to reduce the energy burden of all families below 5% by 2025 (learn more)

Top Community Clean Energy Stories of 2020

Stories are powerful—they can inspire people and shape their understanding of what is possible. Below is a selection of a dozen stories from 2020 that really stood out. See more stories & news.

We also launched a podcast: Energy Futures

There are many people putting forward compelling ideas and visions for the future, and through interviews and events in 2020 we took time to step back and consider these fresh perspectives and how they can contribute to the clean energy future we’re building together.

Subscribe on:   Apple Podcasts   Google Podcasts   Spotify Podcasts   More

10 Years of GreenStep


We helped celebrate 10 years of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations program!

After ten years, half of all Minnesotans live in a community that is advancing sustainability through the GreenStep program. We highlighted their efforts in 2020 through stories, video, and infographics.


We Funded 35 Seed Grants Projects

Awarded in January 2020, these community-based clean energy projects were supported by CERTs and will be completed in early 2021. See 2020 grant awards.

We Created Useful Tools & Guides

A big part of helping Minnesotans build clean energy is highlighting opportunities and offering step-by-step guidance. Below are new and notable tools in 2020, and you can see more here.

2020 Environmental
Initiative Awards


CERTs and our many partners were honored to receive awards for Solar Possible and Cities Charging Ahead!

Environmental Initiative Awards celebrate the people and projects working in partnership at the nexus of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy, and an equitable society.



CERTs 2020 Highlights & Accomplishments
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We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.