The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in our seven regions!

Each region awarded around $20,000, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded more than $1 million to over 300 projects since 2006.

Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants.

CERTs Seed Grants

You may not know this, but wastewater treatment facilities use a huge amount of energy—usually 20-35% of a municipality’s total energy costs, but in many communities the cost can rise to a whopping 60%. Thus, wastewater facilities offer great potential for savings, since the majority are typically neither designed nor operated with energy efficiency as a priority.

MnTAP helps Altura explore energy-saving opportunities at their wastewater treatment facility

The Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA) has committed to purchasing 100 percent of the renewable power output from the Buffalo Solar facility. The 7 Megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar facility, located in the Agency’s member community of Buffalo, Minn., has entered commercial operation and is now providing power to local homes and businesses.

Pictured is the 7 MW Buffalo Solar installation

This blog post is an excerpt of the original story by Tim Krohn at Mankato Free Press.

Ellen Anderson, who worked for two decades in state government on renewable energy and is now with the University of Minnesota Energy Transition Lab, said the progress on renewables has been breathtaking.

Bridgeview Farms in Zumbrota harvesting solar power to reduce energy costs

Metro CERT Director Diana McKeown with the Great Plains Institute took a moment to interview Ellen Anderson, Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, about an important new project to help communities reach and measure progress toward their energy and emissions goals.

LoGoPEP logo

This blog is being re-posted with permission from the original by Laura Hannah at Fresh Energy.

It’s here! The highly anticipated second iteration of Xcel Energy’s hosting capacity analysis has been published.

Map of Xcel Energy’s hosting capacity analysis

For the last two years the Clean Energy Resource Teams have hosted a Solar Video Contest at the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association’s Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference. We’ve been blown away by the creative, powerful, funny, and informative submission we get, and this year was no different! Keep reading to see who won this time around and watch their videos.

Solar Video Contest

Viking Company of Albany, MN, along with partners Clean Energy Resource Teams and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, are pleased to announce the findings of the Advantages of Wood Heat for Poultry (PDF) field study.

The demonstration project field-tested a 1.65 million Btu (British thermal unit) wood chip furnace in a live commercial poultry operation.

Viking Company owner Bill Koenig of Albany, MN with a handfull of wood chips that will soon be used to heat one of his broiler chicken barns

It’s official, winter is here. If you have a drafty house, you’ve now had a couple months to be reminded of the comfort issues that come along with poor insulation and air sealing in homes.

Keep your home warm and cozy with an energy audit and weatherization work

“We’ve pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from operations to zero as fast as possible,” said Shane Stennes, the university’s sustainability director. The University has been exploring renewable energy opportunities to meet their goals.

UMN’s new Main Energy Plant helps reduce campus emissions by 50 percent

This blog is excerpted from a Finance & Commerce story by Frank Jossi.

Third-party ownership is one of the growing number of ways building owners can support solar energy and reduce their utility bills. Under the arrangement, a third-party owner earns money by selling the energy production to building owners for prices substantially less than local utilities charge them.

Waconia Public Schools third-party solar ribbon cutting

This blog is an excerpt from an article in Utility Dive.

Some say pilot projects are a way to avoid the risk of real innovation, but a proposed Xcel Energy pilot to test time-of-use (TOU) rates is charging at innovation and winning praise as it goes.

Image credit: Wikimedia

The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth has created a coal substitute through the process of torrefaction. Woody biomass is roasted in a kiln and formed into briquettes that can be used in existing coal-burning power plants. Benefits include lower carbon emissions and virtually no mercury pollution.

Don Fosnacht, NRRI associate director of the Renewable Energy Initiative, describes the process of converting wood (foreground) into compact briquettes that can be used in coal-fired power plants. Photo by Bob King, Duluth News Tribune

On Tuesday, December 5th nearly 30 hardy Minnesotans ventured out on one of the first really cold days of the season to join Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT) to learn about the solar plus battery storage project at Hartley Nature Center. While solar and storage are frequently discussed, there are few examples up and running in Minnesota that one can actually visit and learn from.

Solar Plus Storage at Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN

Kim Norton is currently a member of the Rochester, MN Rochester Energy Commission. Kim and her husband Randy have recently subscribed to the Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) Solar Choice community solar garden to reduce their use of fossil fuels while powering their electric vehicles. Chris Meyer with CERTs asked Kim to share her experience signing up to RPU’s community solar garden.

Kim Norton from Rochester

When large solar arrays are being installed, it’s quite common to hear from nearby residents that they’re worried about property values being impacted. The 100 MW North Star Solar installation in Chisago County is Minnesota’s largest, and produces enough electricity to power about 20,000 homes.

North Star Solar having no impact on Chisago County property values

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced the opening of the application process for the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards (CECA) to recognize the good work of Minnesota communities in helping achieve the state’s clean energy goals. Commerce is the sponsor and coordinator of the program, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Award recipients from the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards

Remember the movie Toy Story and that phrase, “To Infinity and Beyond!”? That was the basis for the name “Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond” or B3, and it was with that same sort of enthusiasm—but for energy efficiency—that Southeast Clean Energy Resource Team (SE CERT) kicked off a workshop on December 1st for local governments and schools looking to save energy in their buildings, kindly hosted at People’s Energy Cooperative in Oronoco.

Attendees chatting about super exciting energy efficiency opportunities, all made possible by building benchmarking!

Since its launch in 2014, Xcel Energy’s community solar garden program in Minnesota has driven a growing conversation about solar energy options and opportunities, especially among local government staff and elected officials.

Community solar garden from above | Credit: Metropolitan Council

The 11th Annual Fall Summit, held at Saint John’s University this year, engaged over 200 students and coaches from 14 Youth Energy Summit (YES!) teams from central and southern Minnesota.

Students measure the heat differences of lightbulbs using an infrared thermometer during the “Get Current” with Alexis from CERTs

Minneapolis, Champlin, Forest Lake Area Schools, Lester Prairie, Dakota County, Waconia Public Schools.

What do these local governments and schools districts have in common? They are just a sample of public entities that have utilized third-party financing as a means to place solar arrays on their facilities.

Waconia Public Schools third-party solar ribbon cutting

Before winter gets into full swing, Minnesota homeowners have the opportunity to act now to help prevent ice dams and costly water damage to ceilings and walls.
 

What’s the problem?

 
Ice dams are primarily caused by the presence of warm air in the attic, combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions, with outside air temperatures near freezing.

Ice dam on a home in winter

Safety. This is one of the unheralded benefits of a home energy audit, and a small Southeast CERT Seed Grant which helped fund 17 energy audits in Winona County led to the replacement of furnaces in two low-income households.

Blower door test to find leaks during energy audit. Photo courtesy Home Energy Squad

CERTs is pleased to welcome Matt McFarland as our new coordinator for the Northwest region!

Over the past year and a half, Matt has worked at Headwaters Regional Development Commission in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Matt McFarland

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