Because the church is in Xcel Energy utility territory, they qualify for programs at the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a non-profit that provides both commercial and residential energy efficiency loans. “The CEE One Stop Efficiency Shop was such a good program for us! I think many other small non-profits and businesses in the Mankato area can benefit from it!” continued Schwartzkopf.
The staff at CEE helped them obtain a zero-interest loan for a lighting upgrade at the church, and they also acted like a project foreman. “We didn’t need a project expert, because CEE provides that expertise,” Schwartzkopf shared. CEE helped the church secure a lighting contractor, scheduled the contractor to come to Mankato for the work, and helped the church secure sizable utility rebates. Not only that, but the lighting contractor helped them obtain a $3000 Energy Smart grant from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to help with project costs.
Lou feels that switching from fluorescent lighting to LEDs is a “no brainer,” as the loan payments are set to match the estimated cost savings from the upgrade making the switch “free.” Centenary replaced more than 300 lights with LEDs covering about 28,000 square feet of floor space. Total installed cost was $17,145, reduced to $8,362 after utility rebates and a grant from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Monthly loan payments are $299 at 0% interest for a 38-month term and are comparable to the estimated monthly savings of $293.