CERTs Seed Grants Request for Proposals



  Deadline Extended in Southwest, MN to Monday, November 13th, 2017

CERTs Seed Grants


Video: All about CERTs Seed Grants!



Request for Proposals (RFP)

Review the Official RFP The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) seeks applications for limited financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance.

Project funding can support technical assistance services (i.e., labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer, or student labor) for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West Central.

The Clean Energy Resource Teams—or CERTs—are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects.

The primary objectives of this funding are to:

  • Encourage the implementation of community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Minnesota CERT regions
  • Spur projects that are highly visible in their community and replicable by others
  • Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their many benefits

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Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

Application Form

Download the Application Download the Application: To download CERT Seed Grant Application Form for the 2018 round of funding, please click here to provide your name and email address and then click “Next”. You will then be able to download the document. We’re collecting your email address so that we can follow up with you regarding any updates to the seed grant application process.

Applying to Multiple Regions? A single project may apply for funding from more than one region if the project spans more than one region. Applicants applying to multiple regions are required to complete a Multiple-Regions Application Addendum that must be requested from either Lissa Pawlisch or Joel Haskard at rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org or by calling 612-624-2293 or 612-625-8759, respectively.

Your Region: If you’re wondering what region you’re in, click here to see a regional map. You can also visit each region’s webpage to view more details about the region’s priorities: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, West Central.

Questions? Click here to read a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you still have questions after reading the FAQ, you can contact CERT coordination staff listed in the official RFP.

Submitting Your Application

Submit your Application Please submit all proposals electronically to rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org no later than 4:00pm on Friday, October 20th, 2017.

Be sure to include:

  • CERT Seed Grant Application form (Word format preferred)
  • Documentation of project impacts (if applicable)
  • Letters of Commitment from project team members based outside of applicant organization (if applicable)
  • Documentation of secured funding (if applicable)
  • Multiple-Regions Application Addendum (if applicable)

Past CERTs Seed Grant Recipients

CERTs awards seed grants to community groups for energy efficiency and clean energy projects across Minnesota. We awarded grants in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

This map includes all projects ever funded by CERTs, color-coded by the year the award was given. Click on a map marker to learn more about individual projects. See all projects or read project case studies.


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MN Clean Energy Seed Grant Proposals Due October 20

Do you know of groups that need funding to get a community-focused project off the ground? The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) can help!

“Since 2006, CERTs has awarded more than $1 million to over 270 projects,” said Lissa Pawlisch, Clean Energy Resource Teams Director. “Those projects ranged from solar on schools to city street lighting, from renewable home heating to faith community energy outreach, and much more.”

CERTs Seed Grants support labor costs for Minnesota projects. The focus is on community energy efficiency and renewable energy. Projects should be highly visible and replicable, and also spark conversations about clean energy benefits.

Applications are due Friday, October 20th, 2017. Award announcements will be made in early 2018. Learn more and apply today at http://mncerts.org/rfp.

Other Seed Grant Resources:

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Project Planning & Impact Tools

Below are tools by CERTs and others to help you estimate the energy impacts of technology implementation projects. These tools are provided for your convenience but are not required. Units and conversions are explained in this document.



Seed Grant Application Frequently Asked Questions

How do we know if the technology we propose to implement is technically sound?
There are many potential ways of demonstrating that a technology is technically sound. These include but are not limited to: ready availability, well-demonstrated and documented effectiveness, testing by a qualified third party (such as Intertek or the National Renewable Energy Labs), recognized by a third party certification (such as Underwriter Laboratories). For example, eligible solar photovoltaic technologies will be SRCC (Solar Rating & Certification Corporation) certified. Eligible small wind technologies will have followed one of the SWCC pathways to certification as describer here: http://smallwindcertification.org/for-stakeholders/certification-pathways/. Should you have any questions about the viability of the technology you propose to use, please contact Lissa Pawlisch prior to starting a proposal at either pawl0048@umn.edu or 612-624-2293.


Our project involves working in, or will be implemented in, more than one CERT region. Which region should I indicate on my application form?
If applying to multiple regions you must request the Multiple-Region Application Addendum form either Lissa Pawlisch or Joel Haskard as described in the Official RFP. You will indicate and provide information about each region in the Addendum.
Our project has several components to it (e.g., a solar heating project with community education). Under which component should I categorize my project? Is my potential funding restricted to that component? Under which component will it be evaluated?
If your project involves several components, you should indicate all relevant components in Section 4 of the CERTs Seed Grant Application Form. You should indicate all relevant energy focus aspects, as well as all relevant activities and impacts. CERT Steering Committees will consider all components of the project, and funding can be applied to labor related to any and all of those components.
Our project does not fit in any of the categories listed under the Energy Focus part of Section 4: Project Focus and Impact. How do I complete my application form?
The intent of the CERTs seed grant is to fund community energy projects focused on energy efficiency and/or renewable energy. CERTs does not expect the Energy Focus categories to cover all projects, and no project should be considered ineligible solely because it does not fit into one of the listed categories. If your project does not fit into any of the listed categories with the Energy Focus boxes, select “Other” under Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, or Additional Technologies. In the Project Activity and Impacts table, please complete any corresponding impacts for your project. If you have any questions, please contact CERTs at rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org.
What kind of documentation should I submit for my Project Impacts?
If you are implementing an energy efficiency or renewable energy project that will have measurable energy impacts, CERTs encourages you to estimate those energy impacts as part of your planning process. You may use the Project Impact Worksheets or Resources at http://mncerts.org/rfp or other calculators or resources available on the web. Some projects may also have a professional assessment of the project, and those numbers should be submitted. Attach any worksheets, calculators, assessment documents, or other documentation of measurement assumptions and outcomes with your application. You may also contact Alexis Troschinetz, CERTs Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator, for additional assistance at 612-626-0455.
What is the difference between people involved and people reached?
People involved include members on your team who are actively engaged in executing the project or others who are participating in a major way with your project. People reached include those who have learned about your project through information made publicly-available. Examples for how past seed grant recipients have reached people regarding their project include: attendees at presentations or community meetings, visitors to the public location where the project is on display, unique visitors to a web page with information about the project, number of students in the school where a project took place, number of community members who regularly attend a community center where a project took place, and readership of printed articles in newspapers, trade publications or academic journals.
What is the scope of the budget under “Other Funding Support”?
This budget should include any match or other dollars leveraged (cash or in-kind) that are going toward the completion of your project. Please list pending and secured funding sources. If the project is still seeking additional funding sources, please note those funding amounts in the budget table as “pending”.
What forms of documentation are needed to demonstrate my “Secure” contributions?
We will accept a variety of forms of documentation of “Secure” contributions. Examples of appropriate documentation could include a letter of awarded funding or a letter documenting donated materials, equipment and/or labor. This documentation should be submitted electronically with your application.
Where, when, and how should I submit application materials?
Application materials need to be received by Friday, October 20th, 2017 at 4:00 pm at rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org. Please include your Region and Project Name in the subject line. Application materials include the CERT Seed Grant Application Form, any documentation to support project impacts, and any letters of support for secured match funding for the project. If you are applying for funding from multiple regions, you must also include the Multiple-Regions Application Addendum. You will receive confirmation within 1-2 business days of the receipt of your application.
When will we receive funding for our work?
CERTs Seed Grants are paid on a reimbursement basis. Project may invoice for up to half of their seed grant funds by June 15th, 2018, after the work is completed. You must submit an Interim Report to receive payment. Final invoices may be submitted once project work is complete but no later than February 28, 2019 @ 4:00pm. Final invoices will not be paid until Final Reports are reviewed and approved for completeness. If your project is completed before June 15th, you may submit the Final Report with the Final Invoice.
What can we use the CERTs Seed Grant dollars for?
CERTs Seed Grants cover labor costs only. Proposals to request CERTs funding to cover materials, fees, printing, or travel will need to be revised by the applicant to only include labor costs, thereby delaying the review process.
What if our project is funded, but we cannot complete our project on time?
If you are having difficulty completing your project, we ask that you contact CERT Staff immediately. You can always contact us via the rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org email. Maggie Kozak is the primary point of contact for any contracting questions and would be glad to discuss an issue with you over the phone. Her phone number is 612-626-0555. Please know that while we want to work with all funded projects to help ensure their completion, if you are truly unable to complete your project, our intent is to put the money toward a project that can be completed. We absolutely require that projects begin work before the interim reporting date of June 15, 2018. If a project has not begun work the funding will be revoked and reallocated to another project. This is not to penalize projects that cannot move forward, but rather to ensure that we’re able to catalyze local projects with these dollars.
My project has changed from our original project proposal that I submitted. May I still use the funds granted in the seed grant?
Maybe. Please notify rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org of the change as soon as possible. It will depend on the changes and circumstances. In the Southwest region, the change in scope needs Steering Committee approval.
I have a question that has not been addressed above in this FAQ. What do I do?
If you have a question that has not been addressed by this FAQ, please email your question directly to rfp@cleanenergyresourceteams.org and we will try to respond within 3-5 business days.

Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission