On October 25, 2017, Metro CERT paid a visit to Shorewood, 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. From the chocolatier to the VFW hall, we had lively conversations about how to save money for these local businesses and organizations.

City of Shorewood

High on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, near the town of La Crescent, Minnesota, is Enchanted Meadows Organic Dairy Farm. This enterprise is owned by Art and Jean Thicke, and has been in the Thicke family for over 85 years. The conversion to organic was completed in 2005, and they became members of Westby Cooperative Creamery in 2008.

Solar at Enchanted Meadows

On October 3rd, over 30 people joined a clean energy tour in Detroit Lakes hosted by Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), and Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT).

Tour participants gathered for a big group photo in front of Detroit Lake’s Community Solar Garden

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with communities in my home area to see how they can use clean energy to improve their lives,” says Melissa Birch, the new Central CERT Coordinator.

After growing up in north-central Minnesota, Melissa earned a B.A.

Melissa Birch

“All I wanted was a light bulb that would look and feel the same as my old bulb,” said Shaina Brassard, a Minneapolis resident. “When you go to the store you have so many choices now—it can be confusing.

Right Light App for energy-efficient LED bulbs

If you were not able to make it to the event, please take a moment to share your ideas about Metro CERT priorities for 2018-2019.

Over 100 people attended the Metro CERT Annual Event

Wondering what strategies were particularly effective for CERTs Seed Grant recipients in 2016? Below are the top ten things that come out of their project reflections. Now we can all benefit from them!
 

1. Grow community support for your project early.

 
Taking the time to get strong support insured that projects proceeded regardless of funding sources, staffing, and other challenges.

On August 9, 2017 NE CERT and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa co-hosted a clean energy tour of both Fond du Lac Band’s Resource Management Division building as well as Black Bear Casino Resort. The tour included a 1MW solar PV installation, LED lighting, a wood pellet biomass system and other clean energy technologies.

Fond du Lac clean energy tour

Earlier this summer, Edna Gulbranson’s son came back from Wisconsin with a recommendation: A friend of his had recently had an energy inspection done, and it seemed like a good deal, with his friend’s home having received a host of energy-related upgrades and improvements. Gulbranson explained that her son encouraged her to explore the opportunity at her own abode, a townhome in Lindstrom.

Home Energy Squad truck and worker

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) today released a new report called Clean Jobs Midwest from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs that finds that Minnesota now has 57,351 total clean energy jobs.

In the last 12 months, Minnesota’s clean energy industry grew by 5.3 percent, adding 2,893 jobs—3.8 times faster than overall job growth in the state.

In 2016 there were 57,351 clean energy jobs in MN

Hi, my name is Karin Davey and I am a senior Environmental Studies major at Macalester College. I grew up Mankato, Minnesota, in a family where the natural environment played a key role. Most days of my childhood found me outside covered in mud or snow, and I took regular camping and canoeing trips with my parents.

Karin Davey

More than 150 people recently checked out a 100 percent battery-powered Nissan Leaf at two Whole Foods Co-op stores in Duluth. Minnesota Power, in collaboration with Drive Electric Minnesota, showed off the vehicle at “Kick the Tires” events this summer.

“We had so many good conversations!” said Pam Schmitt, customer solutions analyst for Minnesota Power.

Drive Electric MN in Duluth

“This is the first 100% low-income shared solar array in the state of Minnesota, and the first low-income community solar array integrated into energy assistance (LIHEAP) in the nation!” notes Jason Edens with Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, the solar developer for the five Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe solar installations.

Screenshot from LPTV news segment on Leech Lake community solar gardens

Go Wild, LLC secured $6.74 million in PACE financing as part of its capital stack for the Treasure Island Center redevelopment project in Saint Paul, Minnesota. PACE funds will be used for energy efficiency upgrades that are projected to cut utility costs by 40 to 60 percent, decreasing from $1.2 million per year to between $480,000 and $720,000.

Treasure Island Center

Almost every time we give a community presentation on solar, somebody asks about how the costs of the technology are changing and whether it’s best to wait to “go solar.” It’s a smart question, and indeed the costs of the physical components of solar projects are being driven down by market forces (though arguably not quick enough to warrant waiting).

SolSmart

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