“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

A 39 kW solar PV array is the newest piece of equipment on Ronningen Dairy Farm in West Concord, MN in rural Goodhue County, and it’s pumping enough energy into the grid to cover about 50% of the dairy’s electricity needs.

Solar installation at Ronningen Dairy Farm

Solar is a win-win-win for incentive recipients, economy and environment

 
Ron and Kathy Gray of Kellogg, Minn., applied for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program in 2015 and were selected to receive the incentive. They had a 9.9 kW rooftop solar system installed on their house, just off Highway 61 in southeastern Minnesota. The system was installed in September 2015 for $40,000.

Ron and Kathy Gray, front right, along with (left to right) their daughter Miranda, son-in-law Scott, and grandchildren Murdock and Gwendolyn, pose with their rooftop solar energy system. Llamas from their family business join in the fun.

Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL) is an organization that works with faith communities across Minnesota to address the problem of climate change through education and opportunities to become a part of the climate justice movement.

Youth Be the Spark participants

The City of Trimont in South Central Minnesota is leading the way for small cities looking to revamp their street lighting and improve their buildings. The city recently transitioned to LED street lights and updated the heating and cooling systems in their Community Building.

City of Trimont water tower

Recently, Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio published a story all about the rising energy use of our personal workstations—that mess of cords at your desk powering all of your stuff. Read on for an interesting analysis and useful tips for reducing your load!

“Dual monitors, cellphone chargers, coffee makers, space heaters.

Fully loaded power strip | Photo by Richard Drew, AP

Over the past year, Metro CERT has supported the energy conservation and development aspect of the Chisago Lakes Area’s community revitalization plan for their entry into the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition they have been participating in for nearly two years. The Chisago Lakes Area includes the communities of Chisago, Lindstrom, Center City, Shafer, and Taylors Falls.

Diana McKeown chats with local business owner

Over sixty Winona county residents crowded into the Winona City Hall on a recent brisk March Saturday morning to learn the “Seven Steps to a Solar Ready Home.” Because every dollar spent on energy efficiency reduces the size of a needed solar electric generating system energy, efficiency can actually reduce a homeowner’s cost for a solar system by three to five times.

8.5kW Winona residential solar installation by Innovative Power Systems in 2010

Community solar programs are gaining increasing interest from electric utility customers across the nation. Unlike individual solar PV systems, community shared solar systems, also known as Solar Gardens, create an opportunity for multiple individuals and organizations to receive the benefit of a larger solar installation without requiring it to be located on-site.

Mayor Peter Lindstrom shows off solar panels atop Falcon Heights City Hall

The Minnesota Department of Commerce just announced their 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Incentive Program lottery results. This year the program will support 679 new projects and 10.23 MW of capacity—that’s a lot! Minnesota Power’s SolarSense Program also expanded this year.

Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive

Every week there has been news of solar installations breaking ground, getting installed, and pumping clean electricity into Minnesota’s grid. It appears we’re definitely in the midst of a solar boom! We pulled together a few of the best recent stories for your perusal.