More than 80 people gathered in Minneapolis last month for the last of four regional workshops on community solar sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership.

National Community Solar Partnership

Folks in Redwood County might know Knott’s Corner Bar and Grill in the town of Lucan (pop. 191) for their delicious Buffalo Wings. What they might not know is that the business has become much more energy efficient and is saving energy dollars with the help of the Rural Minnesota Energy Board’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

Anna Knott, owner of Knott's Corner Bar & Grill in Lucan

Keeping our homes cool and comfortable during Minnesota’s hot, humid summer months is a challenge for all of us. And it sounds like we’re getting ready for a scorcher next week!

Many of our daily activities produce heat and moisture inside our homes.

Image courtesy InHabitat

When it comes to sustainability, it’s more likely these days that cities are working on advancing energy, water, economic, and environmental practices than not.

GreenStep Cities at the 2016 LMC conference

Things are in bloom all over Minnesota right now, including solar energy, and more and more solar installations across the state will be supporting the creatures that pollinate our plants.

Gov. Dayton recently signed the Pollinator Friendly Solar Act into law on May 31, 2016.

Pollinator-friendly prairie habitat around DNR solar installation

This article is an excerpt from the original by Marie Wood at “The Land” magazine.

When the Fullers decided to save the barn on their farm near Trimont, MN and add on a shop, they embarked on a decade-long journey that ended with a reclaimed barn, a geothermal heating and cooling system for energy efficiency, and a solar array to power the farm with renewable energy.

Solar on the Fuller Farm barn near Trimont, MN

Solar energy is a hot topic in Minnesota, and people are hungry for in-depth, un-biased information. The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) adapted a popular series of guides for Minnesota audiences, and they’re now available for download.

Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business

Does your home or business get enough sun to generate solar power?

You can now get an answer—quick, easy, and free—with a convenient online mapping tool called the Minnesota Solar App. Simply by typing in your address, you can get an instant analysis of the solar energy potential of your property.

The app is available at http://mn.

MN Solar Suitability App

Affordable solar thermal systems are now within reach for more Minnesota homes and businesses.

The Commerce Department announced that it will offer rebate opportunities beginning March 30, 2016 to all residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program.

Minnesota Department of Commerce

CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have joined forces to offer an incentive-based Multi-Family Building Efficiency program in Minnesota. Until now, the two utilities have not had a program that jointly addresses energy challenges in multi-family properties.

CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy multi-family energy efficiency program

Over the past eight years CERTs staff have had the honor of working with Bill Mittlefehldt as our Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT) Coordinator.

Bill Mittlefehldt, former NE CERT Coordinator

The Clean Energy Resource Teams get to host two interns this summer, one at the Great Plains Institute and another at the University of Minnesota.

Keep reading to learn a little more about their studies, what they’ll be working on, and how to reach out.

CERTs summer interns Emma Ryan and Jinny Kim

There are now more than 100 cities in Minnesota participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Most of the cities involved are small-to-medium-sized cities where the support of a savvy intern can help staff go the extra step on accomplishing best practices.

Minnesota GreenStep Cities

Minnesota is not too shabby when it comes to clean energy these days. Below are recent reports from two national organizations, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), highlighting Minnesota’s place in the solar and wind energy landscape.

There are a lot of communities with outdoor swimming pools in Minnesota, and many of them struggle with the high costs of keeping them heated.

Solar thermal heating at an outdoor public swimming pool in Toronto. Source: Canada SolarCity Partnership

If you happen to be in Worthington, be sure and stop into Mini Market Lupita for a delicious lunch in the restaurant or to shop at the attached grocery store. Owner Maria Parga has created a great place, and she has done so partly by working with economic development partners in the region to take advantage of existing programs to reduce her energy costs.

Robin Weis (left) and Gene Metz (right) helped Maria Paarga find funding for energy efficient upgrades in Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant. Alex Chhith/Daily Globe

Sid and Nadine Malchow own the Hi-Lo Supper Club & Catering in Lakefield, MN, and have been an important thread in their community’s fabric over the years. In fact, the Hi-Lo Restaurant & Catering has been proudly serving Southwest Minnesota and Northern Iowa with fine dining for over 65 years, and the Malchows have been providing catering services for over 25 years.

Hi-Lo Supper Club & Catering

On Tuesday afternoon, May 24, 2016, the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission hosted a West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams (WC CERT) event focused on all things solar.

The event was geared toward helping participants understand what solar means for local government, planning agencies, and residents. A room full of 36 people gathered to soak up the information.

Attendees at Appleton solar event

If you are in Good Thunder (pop. 583) looking for a fun thrift store to update your home décor, stop into Main Street Repeats. Owners George and Maureen Spear not only have great deals awaiting the discerning customer, they also know a great deal when they see one: they recently upgraded their lights to LEDs using the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

Main Street Repeats Thrift Store

Deep Portage, a nonprofit Environmental Learning Center located near Hackensack, Minnesota, has a powerful story to tell of how they are building a sustainable energy future in Central Minnesota.

Clean energy work has made Deep Portage stand out as a leader in energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.

CERTs solar array tour at Deep Portage

USDA Rural Development State Director recently announced funding to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems.

“This funding will allow local rural small businesses and ag producers the opportunity to invest in improvements that will reduce energy usage or use energy more efficiently,” Landkamer said.

USDA

On a sunny afternoon in South Minneapolis on March 22nd, just as school was getting out and cars zoomed past on 35W overhead, a celebration of local energy innovation was on display at Taqueria La Hacienda on East Lake Street.

Lake Street Council accepts check for Energy Coaching project

Hamdi Restaurant, offering traditional Somali food on East Lake Street, was eager to participate in the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership program to improve the energy efficiency of the business and lower the electric bill.

New lighting at Hamdi restaurant

A co-owner of Safari Restaurant, Sade Hashi, was confident in his decision to take advantage of the energy efficiency assistance provided by the Small Business Energy Coaching Partnership, a jointly run program between the Lake Street Council and the Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart Program.

Safari Restaurant on Lake Street