In these challenging times, Minnesotans may find themselves having to choose between paying their energy bill and other necessities—food, medicine and healthcare. Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program offers eligible residents help to pay their energy bills so they do not have to choose between life’s necessities. Since Covid-19, there have been some big changes in the Energy Assistance Program.

energy assistance

Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The program places members with organizations throughout the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. MPCA is currently accepting applications, due March 16, from organizations interested in hosting a Minnesota GreenCorps member for the 2021-2022 program year.

greencorps

After learning about solar energy from another local business, Bill Hanisch, owner of Red Wing's popular Hanisch Bakery, decided to go solar himself. "I looked at all the numbers and said, I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to do this. The payback is very quick," Bill shared. "We're in our second year with solar now and it's going great. It's cool to look down at your roof and see it covered in solar panels. Good feeling to have—to know you're doing something right." Learn how he did it and the tools you can use to cook up solar and energy efficiency projects!

macaron

The Office of Enterprise Sustainability is a small office within the State’s Department of Administration with the mission to assist state agencies in meeting sustainability goals across energy, water, solid waste, procurement, fleet, and greenhouse gas reductions—driving toward the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2025. They now have a master contract for solar energy procurement that can speed the process for local governments and schools interested in going solar. We talked to Marcus Grubbs with the State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Sustainability to learn more.

woodbury solar

Metro CERT is excited to welcome three new members to our Steering Committee as we kick off 2021: Marisa Bayer, Gardyartu M. Freeman, and Bill Sierks. We asked them to introduce themselves, talk a bit about their background and interest in clean energy, and let us know what drew them to help guide our work. Welcome!

people

As Energy Awareness Month comes to a close, celebrate with these clean energy-themed pumpkin stencils! It’s a fun way to energize your neighborhood and teach your kids about energy efficiency and renewable energy. While you’re at it, you can also avoid cold weather terrors like phantom power and see tips for bundling up your house before winter hits.

Energy-themed pumpkin stencils

CJ Denney, a sophomore studying biology and environmental studies at Macalester College in Saint Paul, will be serving Minnesota communities as an intern with Metro CERT for the 2020-2021 academic year. "I’m excited to learn more about clean energy initiatives and how we can implement them in our very own communities."

cj

On September 22, 2020, businesses in the Fergus Falls area and the organizations serving them were invited to learn about opportunities for saving money on energy bills, next steps to make projects happen, and funding for energy-saving upgrades. We heard speakers from Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Otter Tail Power Company, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams. View a recap, webinar, and slides to see what you missed!

fergus falls chamber

Rebecca Heisel joined the Great Plains Institute (GPI) electric vehicle crew in September as a Minnesota GreenCorps Member for an 11-month service term. In this position, Rebecca will provide one on one support and technical assistance to communities to help them with their initiatives related to electric vehicle adoption.

rebecca

A handful of folks from Northwest Minnesota recently welcomed Ed Lohrenz of GEOptimize to share his insights on siting ground source heat pump or geoexchange systems. Ed focused on the most important elements to consider in system design and current industry trends. Shannon Stassen, Northwest CERT Coordinator, connected with Ed at the suggestion of our colleagues at Otter Tail Power Company who have worked with Ed on several projects.

coils

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers want to travel longer distances without worrying about where they can recharge. Over the next few years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will increase the state’s charging network by more than 2,500 miles using funds from the VW settlement to install 38 fast-charging stations in Greater Minnesota to help support the state’s growing EV market.

charging corridor

It seems likely that social distancing, in one form or another, is likely to be with us for some time. Given that inescapable fact, what are some of the tools and practices that are available to help ensure that Minnesota residents are able to continue to work, access healthcare, and participate in local governance? Might these tools and practices offer quality of life and environmental benefits that extend beyond confronting the current challenge of COVID-19? CERTs and the Minnesota GreenStep Program came together to examine these questions in a series of four webinars on telework, telehealth, and community engagement.

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Metro CERT is excited to welcome four new members to its Steering Committee! We were able to have one in-person meeting with our newest members before the COVID-19 emergency got underway. As we welcome these new members, we asked them to introduce themselves, share how their lives have changed, and what they’re doing to adjust during this unprecedented time. Read on to learn about their diverse backgrounds, what drew them to clean energy and CERTs specifically, and a little-known fact about each of them. 
 

committee

When the Clean Energy Resource Teams  and Great Plains Institute were wrapping up the Cities Charging Ahead! peer cohort in the summer of 2019—which produced several resources and tools to guide communities on their EV readiness journey—the big question was, “what next?” So when the opportunity came to pivot and support municipal utilities to become EV ready in order to further accelerate deployment of EVs across Minnesota, it seemed like the natural next step. Introducing: Powering Ahead with Vehicle Electrification (PAVE), which launched in mid-March.

elk river ev and charger

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and our partner, the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) at University of Minnesota Extension, are delighted to welcome Marie Donahue to our team as our new Sustainability Storyteller. Marie will develop stories that highlight the champions and projects inspiring sustainability and clean energy action across Minnesota, and support a variety of RSDP and CERTs communications efforts.

Marie Donahue

Every year the 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. The 2020 recipients were announced today, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams and our many partners are honored to receive both of the awards in the Energy and Climate category for the Solar Possible and Cities Charging Ahead! efforts!

site assessment

Is your local government or organization curious about how to increase your sustainable spend using state contracts? The State of Minnesota has new resources for you to check out! Guidance has been designed to help cities, counties, townships, and nonprofits (among others) increase the sustainability of their purchases and work toward sustainable spending goals.

green bag

We have never experienced a situation like this. Since CERTs began in 2003 we have always been about forging relationships as an essential pathway to advancing community-based clean energy. It would be naive of us not to recognize that in many ways, this forging relationships part is looking a little more complicated this week. I am at my kitchen counter writing this, and I imagine many of you will be reading this from home. I say all of this because we recognize that perhaps working on a clean energy project is simply not at the top of your to-do list right now, and we get it. The most important thing right now is to take care of yourself, your families, loved ones, friends, and neighbors following guidance from the CDC. And, with this awareness front and center, we want you to know we're still here to help you when the time is right.

Lissa Pawlisch

Rochester, MN has kicked off its 2nd year of participation in the Minnesota Efficient Buildings Collaborative and is hoping to add 20 new buildings to the Sustainable Rochester Building Energy Benchmarking program for 2020. During 2019, 90 buildings, mostly public participated. Energy and water consumption for these buildings was tracked and compared to the national average of buildings with the same type of use. The 2019 buildings represent 11% of Rochester’s total energy use, and 5.6% of the city’s Green House Gas Emissions.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton

Nearly fifty people attended the event in Hackensack, which featured a film screening and presentations on local clean energy projects, as well as community conversation and a tour of Deep Portage Learning Center’s clean energy installations. The Power of Minnesota, a short documentary exploring how Minnesotans are building a clean energy economy that powers our communities and our state, was the first feature on the agenda.

solar and snow

The State of Minnesota announced an open request for proposals (RFP) for a statewide, on-site solar PV master contract. All qualified solar developers are invited to submit proposals. This is a design-build contract program available for use by all Minnesota State agencies, local governments, schools, and more. The deadline for responses is March 27, 2020 at 3:00pm. We talked to Jordan Wente, Research Analysis Specialist with the State of Minnesota's Office of Enterprise Sustainability, to learn more about the opportunity. 

solar pv

We're already diving into 2020 with a splash, but we thought it would be nice to reflect on 2019 and the ways CERTs was able to help Minnesotans build clean energy in 2019. Here goes!

EVs at Farmfest

The Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team (NW CERT) and University of Minnesota Extension Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Northwest RSDP) are pleased to welcome longtime community leader Shannon Stassen as the new Program Associate for clean energy and resilient communities. In his new role, Stassen will work with local governments, nonprofits, foundations, and partners across Northwest Minnesota to connect local sustainability projects to research, education and resources at the University of Minnesota.

Shannon Stassen

It is an energizing start to 2020 for communities across Minnesota. The state’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are awarding Seed Grants to 35 innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities from Slayton to Grand Marais, Crookston to La Crescent, Little Falls to Minneapolis. The 35 projects received funding across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach, community building, and research. These awards mark the tenth round of Seed Grants from the group, totaling over $1.3 million to 393 projects since 2006.

seed grants

Dozens of community members came together at the Willmar Public Library on Saturday, December 7, 2019 to see a new clean energy documentary, hear from local speakers, and discuss ways to save energy and money.

Attendees chatting
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