Businesses across Minnesota are finding ways to save energy and money while also meeting their environmental goals. Steffl Drilling & Pump, a well drilling contractor based out of Willmar in West Central Minnesota, took efforts to use less energy and clean energy recently with LED lighting, solar, and geothermal at their headquarters. Fritz Ebinger with CERTs interviewed Business Director Sam Steffl to learn more about the project.
Driven by cost savings, education & sustainability
Mounds View School District recently finished installing solar PV systems on the roofs of 13 school buildings. The projects are estimated to save the district nearly $1 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years, while also enhancing student education and helping the district meet its sustainability goals. Peter Lindstrom with CERTs interviewed Mike Cartwright, Mounds View High School physics teacher and sparkplug behind the effort, to learn more.
LED bulbs distributed through food shelf and programs
In late April 2020, Beth Kallestad, a Program Coordinator at the City of Northfield, dropped off 150 LED light bulbs at the food shelf run by The Community Action Center of Northfield. The light bulbs were provided free of charge from Xcel Energy to Northfield as a part of their participation in the Partners in Energy program. The bulbs will be distributed to food shelf customers and families served by Rice County’s Growing Up Healthy initiative.
Canosia Grove Farm & Cidery is a Northwoods permaculture based on an historic 40-acre former dairy farm near Duluth, MN. They propagate heritage-variety apples, raise bees and Icelandic sheep, and make cottage cider and honey. The newest addition to the farm is a solar array atop their beautiful barn. We interviewed owner Mehgan Blair to learn more!
The Bemidji Community Food Shelf (BCFS) distributes food to just under 3,000 qualifying families in Beltrami County and the Bemidji School District every year. BCFS has always had a commitment to sustainability and energy conservation, evidenced by their cutting edge farm project. We talked to Executive Director Mary Mitchell to learn more about their recent upgrade to LED lighting.
Weatherization service providers are on the front lines when it comes to assisting under-resourced community members with lowering their energy bills and keeping their dwellings affordable, comfortable and safe. United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) shows how a little bit of seed funding for in-home one-on-one visits mixed in with traditional utility and governmental dollars can lead to big results.
Habitat for Humanity homes and solar energy seem like a natural combination, since the solar installation can help reduce energy burden—the percent of household income spent on energy bills—and increase the resources that families have for other expenses. But there have been relatively few such projects in Minnesota. That’s one reason that the 3.9 kW solar project installed by RREAL on the Jensen family home in Foley, MN is special.
What if all schools in Minnesota utilized solar power?
Imagine this headline in the near future: “All Schools in Minnesota Utilize Solar Power.” Wouldn’t it be amazing if solar energy powered the education of our state’s 845,404 students? It might not be so far off. Most schools in Minnesota do not currently have solar, but there has never been a better time for them to take advantage of clean energy opportunities. A dramatic drop in the cost of solar panels, combined with new financing choices, has now made solar widely available.