Minneapolis Green Cost Share program helps local garage lift community with solar

February 2024

For many Americans, damage to their automobile can be financially devastating, with skyhigh repair costs that can sometimes be too much to overcome.

For years, Cathy Heying saw this struggle first-hand, working as a social worker with people experiencing homelessness. Often, the loss of an automobile can lead to a domino effect where people are unable to travel to work, losing their jobs and their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Determined to help people in this situation, Heying went back to school for auto technology, and in 2013 she opened The Lift Garage on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, an auto shop dedicated to providing low cost repairs for those in need. Over the last 10 years, Heying and The Lift have grown from operating with one repair bay to five. In 2022, they completed their most recent project — installing a 38.4 kWdc solar system on their roof.

solar on Lift Garage

The project was kickstarted by Solar By Us, an organization that works with local community-focused businesses and nonprofits to go solar and take advantage of available incentives. Eric Jensen, principal consultant at Solar By Us, shares that he decided to reach out to The Lift because he “could tell that if [solar] saved them [money], it would go back into the community.” 

Helping support Heying and Solar By Us with their mission is the City of Minneapolis. The Lift Garage was able to secure $13,251 in funding through the city’s Green Cost Share program, a cost-match fund which helps to pay for various pollution reduction measures, including solar installations. Since the Lift Garage is located in Minneapolis’s Southside Green Zone, they were able to receive a higher incentive rate for their solar project. Green Cost Share, paired with other available solar incentives, and a common solar leasing model that Solar By Us offered Heying, meant The Lift Garage didn’t have to put a penny towards the installation cost.

“Solar never seemed like something that was possible for us… I was really excited to make it a reality.”

Cathy Heying, The Lift Garage founder

It didn’t take long to see the fruits of this project. According to Solar By Us, in the first six months of use, The Lift was able to save $2,366.50, money which went right back into the business and community.

“The more ways that we can lower our overhead costs, the more ways that we can serve customers,” Heying says. “It couldn’t have happened without the Green Cost Share program.”

“One of our core values is justice and that includes care for the environment,” Heying says, and she encourages like-minded peers to join her in this effort. As a board member of the Longfellow Business Association in Minneapolis, Heying has told fellow business owners about the advantages that solar has provided and the ways that it can become attainable for small businesses and nonprofits. 

The Green Cost Share program gives out funding every year, and under the City of Minneapolis’s new Climate Equity Plan, there will be more funding available for businesses wanting to do clean energy projects than ever before. The next round of applications opens in early 2024. Learn more about Green Cost Share from the City of Minneapolis.

Sign up for our email newsletter

We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.