An innovative pilot project at the University of Minnesota looks into taking scum from waste water treatment plants and turning it into biodiesel that could be used in on-site vehicles.

For University of Minnesota (UMN) researchers, scum is a word packed with profitable promise. College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) professor and Center for Biorefining director R.

The process developed by Ruan and Anderson converts scum to biodiesel that can be directly used in utility vehicles on-site, leading to substantial cost savings

Interested in battery storage? Connexus, Minnesota’s largest retail electric cooperative, is working toward building Minnesota’s largest energy storage project supporting three of their solar projects.

Reposted with permission from original article by Frank Jossi for Midwest Energy News.

Photo by Baltine, Creative Commons

The energy revolution is spreading, and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) is doggedly determined to help Minnesota’s variety of faith communities join the movement. Although some energy efficiency and clean energy resources are available to congregations and other faith organizations, MNIPL staff wanted to jumpstart connections and empower congregations to live out their values.

MNIPL team planning for faith community outreach

Tucked into the south side of Minneapolis, Tangletown is a neighborhood interested in clean energy possibilities. The neighborhood hopes to foster a culture of energy sustainability by installing solar arrays in an urban setting. With a $1,000 Seed Grant from Metro CERT, they assessed four roofs and evaluated their suitability for installing solar arrays ranging in size from 40 kW up to 140 kW.

Working with Tangletown Minneapolis business owners on solar energy

On June 28, Metro CERT paid a visit to Victoria, MN to talk to small businesses about energy-saving projects. CERT hoped to raise awareness about opportunities available through rebates and programs offered by their utilities. The quaint downtown was small, but energetic!

During the visit, Metro CERT staff were able to talk with a total of 33 businesses in the city of lakes and parks.

Metro CERT staff ready for door knocking efforts

The Midwest’s first electric bus has arrived in Minnesota! How did this happen? “We’re nimble,” said David Ranallo Manager, Marketing & Member Services at Great River Energy. “The right time isn’t always the obvious time, but we’re always looking for innovation opportunities for Great River Energy and our cooperative membership.

Electric school bus takes part in Lakeville Pan-O-Prog parade

For many elementary schools, STEM programs consist of textbooks, online research and classroom experiments. For the students of Cyprus Classical Academy in Burnsville, STEM recently got real. This spring, 8- and 9-year-old students installed the school’s HVAC control system through a partnership with 75F, a local building automation company.

Students at Cyprus Classical Academy work on energy conservation project

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that Minnesota has received an additional $13 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

Three signs welcoming people to the City of Slayton are now illuminated using the power of the sun. The new entrance signs use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

The signs are backlit with LED lights.

New solar-powered LED lit signs welcome people to Slayton

With the knowledge that energy can account for as much as 10 percent of a local government’s annual operating budget, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently launched the Local Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP). LEEP has a straightforward aim: Assist local governments with completing energy audits.

Leaping into action

“I am happy to be joining the CERTs team this summer! Due to my leadership role in Yale’s Project Bright, a solar energy effort, I bring experience in community organizing behind clean energy solutions.”

“I am particularly passionate about working on environmental justice for communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Sophia Krohn

Located in southeast Minnesota in Henderson (pop. 866), the Ney Nature Center is great place to visit for bird watching, hiking, cross country skiing…and learning about solar energy! To learn more about their Southeast CERT Seed Grant project we chatted with Becky Pollack, Ney Nature Center’s Executive Director.
 

Tell us a little about this project.

First solar installation at Ney Nature Center

Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) is a community organization located in Grand Marais with a goal to educate people of all ages about energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Speakers Morgan and Olya from CCLEP efficiency event

Since it opened its doors in 1977, the Minnesota Discovery Center (MDC) has been an important presence in educating Minnesotans about the history of the Iron Range and Minnesota. Today, the MDC is taking steps to educate Minnesotans about our energy future.

Solar installation at Minnesota Discovery Center

The Orr Recreation and Resource Center recently purchased the old Orr High School and began the arduous work of remodeling it. One of the first changes that they decided to make was to replace the old light bulbs in the building with new LEDs.

Orr Recreation and Resource Center

Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities started with the goal of helping customers become more energy aware and lower their power bills by using energy more efficiently and reducing the energy consumed during peak usage periods.

Beat the Peak with Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities

Minnesota utilities: Join CERTs in a webinar to hear all about our new campaign, Saving Watts and Drops. We’re focusing on utilities in this first wave of outreach on the campaign because utilities are such a big potential partner. Feel free to get acquainted with the campaign at savingwattsdrops.org.

Saving Watts and Drops

Excerpt from Finance & Commerce article by Frank Jossi:

Owned by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, the Glendale Townhomes in Prospect Park have not had many updates to improve their energy efficiency since they were constructed in 1952. Later this year a pilot project will begin with an energy audit of one of the complex’s eight-unit townhouse buildings.

Glendale Townhomes in Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis

Join us as we dive a little deeper into two web resources for the electric vehicle shopper, mncharging.org and evsalespro.com. We interviewed several EV experts, utility staff, and EV sales personnel to learn more.

 

First, to learn more about mncharging.org, we reached out to Jukka Kukkonen, founder of PlugInConnect, LLC. Jukka, tell us a little about this new tool.

On a bright, sunny Minnesota spring day, with solar panels in the background, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that the state is enjoying dramatic growth in solar power, adding nearly as much new solar capacity in just the first three months of 2017 as in all of 2016.

The Metropolitan Council, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), and their partners are being awarded for their innovative solar garden work at the 25th Anniversary Environmental Initiative Awards. The awards program, hosted by the nonprofit Environmental Initiative, annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary outcomes by harnessing the power of partnership.

Project partners pose for an award photo

On May 19, 2017, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and AURI (Agricultural Utilization Research Institute) hosted a group of 30 folks at Hillcrest Restaurant in Albany, MN that heard presentations on commercial biomass heating and then headed out to the nearby Viking Company farm for a demonstration tour of their biomass-heated poultry barn.

Touring the biomass-heated poultry barn at Viking Company

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, over 20 people gathered at City Hall in Hutchinson, Minnesota, to take a driving and walking tour of the many clean energy and sustainability projects that the city has engaged in over the years.

Touring the solar array that powers the Hutchinson wastewater treatment plant

Walking into MidWestOne Bank’s cheery, modern lobby in Chisago City, you likely wouldn’t notice that the building was originally constructed in the mid-1970s.

MidWestOne Bank in Chisago City

The cattle pasture on the southern side of Bridgeview Farms is now home to 32 solar PV panels providing 88% of the average annual electricity needed by Tim and Marie Mack’s farm and home. A family owned and operated farm, Bridgeview in Zumbrota, MN offers traditionally-raised beef sides and quarters, as well as corn, soybeans, hay, straw, and pumpkins.

Solar installation at Bridgeview Farms