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.

Interest in reducing the energy consumption of livestock has certainly grown, not only from a consumer’s perspective, but also from producers—for both cost-saving and environmental reasons.

For example, within swine facilities, electricity is used in two major areas. First, for delivering feed and water, and secondly, for removing heat in the summer and providing heat in winter.

2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference

Over 40 people stopped by the Sprout Growers and Makers Fair in Little Falls on Saturday, March 25th to learn more about electric vehicles. On display was a sleek black Tesla Model S owned by Jessee Holmes, and a sporty-looking blue 2016 Nissan LEAF owned by Jeff Riegle.

Attendees kick the tires on electric vehicles in Little Falls

Later this year the nation’s first “integrated” wind and solar hybrid project will begin producing power outside a small city in northwest Minnesota.

Developed by Juhl Energy, Inc., the Red Lake Falls Project combines two 2.3 megawatt (MW) General Electric 116-meter rotor turbines with a 1 MW solar photovoltaic installation.

Credit: Gerry Machen

There is A LOT happening in the world of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) here in Minnesota. We asked Jukka Kukkonen with PlugInConnect, LLC, to tell us a bit more.

The Overview

“This is a year of great developments in Minnesota,” says Jukka.

No, it isn’t Christmas time again, but you might think that with all the new LED lighting that illuminates the recently remodeled Holiday Gas Station in Grand Marais!

To promote energy efficiency strategies, the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission issued a rebate to Mike’s Holiday, Inc. for their extensive use of LED technology.

Shown from left to right are Jan Smith, Courtney Quaife, Payton Quaife, Tim Quaife, Karl Hansen, and Tim Kennedy. Photo by Rhonda Silence, WTIP.

A recent Finance & Commerce article highlighted the installation of a new geothermal system at Cargill Philanthropies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The article served as a great reminder that geothermal is an excellent—and often forgotten—energy technology.

Minnesota Geothermal Heat Pump Association Conference

The CERTs statewide staff are housed at the University of Minnesota on the St. Paul campus. There is a lot of interesting research happening around here, and when we recently read that researchers were working with high-tech silicon nanoparticles to collect solar energy in windows, man, that got us pretty excited.

OK, it might be a few years away, but hey, still exciting. We spoke with Dr.

University of Minnesota researcher Samantha Ehrenberg uses a plasma reactor to create silicon nanoparticles that are the key ingredient in the solar concentrators. Credit: Patrick O'Leary, University of Minnesota

LED linear tube lights are an emerging energy-efficient technology. With the popularity of the CERTs Right Light Guide, we decided it was high time to offer some basic guidance on LED tubes.

This is the second version of the guide with slight revisions from the original.

Why are people considering LED tubes?

Fluorescent lighting is everywhere. Fluorescent lighting is universal.

CERTs Right Light Guide for LED Tube Lights

A new analysis of energy use for 417 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that they have the combined potential to save $27 million per year on energy costs by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 15 percent.

Minneapolis benchmarking report now available

Friends of the Finland Community had one simple goal in mind: to help the Clair Nelson Finland Community Center become more energy efficient and cost effective. A Northeast CERT Seed Grant helped them get it done!

LEDs were the perfect solution

Friends of the Finland Community’s aim was to replace ten metal halide light fixtures located on the outside of the building with LED lights.

Clair Nelson Finland Community Center

Ecolibrium3’s Giving Comfort at Home project provides energy efficiency upgrades for Duluth homeowners that may be unable to do so on their own, and the program recently got a boost from a Northeast CERT Seed Grant.

Understanding the problem

“Duluth housing stock is old, and many of our most vulnerable citizens experience energy poverty, particularly during the winter months.

Pilot home for Giving Comfort At Home gets a thumbs up for air sealing

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