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The Get Answers series offers useful tips from CERTs and our partners to help you get to the bottom of your energy efficiency and renewable energy questions.

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Making the money work
Joel Haskard
Tue, 01/17/2012 - 10:00am
States and communities are increasingly investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy to achieve their air quality, economic, and energy goals. In doing so, they have found that the up-front costs of improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy generation can be a barrier for many homeowners, building owners, and businesses. One way to address these barriers is by adopting clean energy financing programs that can make efficiency and renewable energy more affordable for these sectors. EPA’s State and Local Climate and Clean Energy Program is supporting these efforts with the launch of a new online Financing Program Decision Tool and a Financing Program Decision Guide. Here are the details: The Financing Program Decision Tool is designed for state and local staff in the early...
Energy-efficient gift ideas
Joel Haskard
Mon, 12/05/2011 - 12:02pm
If you’re wondering what to give this holiday season, consider gifts that save energy. Energy savings is a gift that keeps giving year round. Otter Tail Power Company offers these energy-saving gift ideas for the people on your list. LED desk or piano lamps: For students, musicians, and people with home offices, consider sleek and modern LED lamps designed for desk or piano. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are highly efficient, long-life, cool-operating bulbs that provide bright task lighting at less than 10 watts. LED flashlights: Get the same benefits of LED lighting for handymen or outdoor enthusiasts with LED flashlights. High-tech designs use durable waterproof casings made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and strong LED bulbs capable of delivering bright 225 lumens in turbo mode. Smart power strips: Plug computers and home electronics...
Caulking around windows
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 11/30/2011 - 10:23am
This was originally posted as a press release from the Department of Commerce. As cold weather settles across Minnesota and furnaces kick in to high gear, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) issued a consumer alert reminding consumers of some basic energy-saving measures to practice in the frigid winter months ahead. “There are a number of simple things we all can do to save money, save energy, and stay warm this winter,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The Minnesota Department of Commerce is committed to helping provide consumers with the information and resources they need to make it through the winter a little warmer, with a little more money in their wallets.” Commissioner Rothman and the Department of Commerce encourage all Minnesotans to follow these simple, inexpensive household tips: Weather strip and caulk windows and...
Renewable Energy and Schools report
Laura Burrington
Tue, 11/29/2011 - 7:22am
Over the last 20 years, dozens of schools have installed renewable energy systems. Most of these installations have been in the last few years. Each school’s story has been unique, with process and type of renewable energy systems ranging from large wind turbines generating most of the school’s energy to small solar systems that are designed to be portable educational tools only. While each school’s story is unique, most of these school projects share some common elements, including successes, barriers and dilemmas. This guide was developed by Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. Continue reading to learn more about the guide, or click here to download it now! Intent of this Guide: This guide describes a process that will help schools learn from...
Holiday lights a mess? Recycle them!
Dan Thiede
Thu, 11/03/2011 - 4:39pm
Did you recently unpack your boxes of holiday lights and end up feeling like this poor guy? Then now is the time to get rid of old, broken, inefficient light strands and upgrade to new, efficient LED holiday lights from your local hardware store! CERTs is partnering again with the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM), for the 2011-2012 holiday season on Recycle Your Holidays™. RAM recycles every part of the light strings—the metal wires, the plastic casing, and even the lights themselves. We’re providing a map of drop-off locations that are accepting holiday lights, and it’s also possible for you to sign up as a location. Click here to see all drop-off locations currently signed up to participate >> Click here to see our press release...
Blowing insulation into the attic
Phil Smith
Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:05pm
As the weather gets colder, we’ve decided to re-post our most popular blog post of all time from one of our favorite people of all time! Phil Smith, a now-retired Energy Specialist at the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, MN Department of Commerce, answers a question from a Southeastern Minnesota resident preparing to re-shingle her roof. The Question: “I’m adding insulation to the attic of an older farmhouse and am getting conflicting advise regarding the need to insure adequate ventilation in the attic or develop an envelope in the attic that supposedly removes the need to provide adequate ventilation. I will be re-shingling the roof next year and read that the shingle warranties require adequate attic ventilation. What do you recommend? Thanks for whatever help you can provide.” The Answer:   The very first measure that should be...
Loan Program
Julia Eagles
Thu, 06/23/2011 - 1:10pm
What is the City of Minneapolis Energy Efficiency Business Loan Program? The City of Minneapolis, through the Business Finance Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), has established a low-interest loan program to assist Minneapolis-based businesses interested in reducing energy consumption. The City has partnered with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) to administer the program and provide financing for energy-efficiency projects in commercial properties. Funding includes a combination of a loan and forgivable rebate. The rebate will be calculated into the loan and paid out in monthly payment reductions. Program Features: Rebate in the amount of 20% of project cost after utility rebates (not to exceed $5,000). Interest rate fixed for term of loan at 0% Maximum loan amount is $75,000 Closing costs financed in loan Variable loan term up...
Joel Haskard
Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:10pm
I am pleased to have the opportunity to interview Seth Fore, a masters student at the University of Minnesota Crookston who has been working with professor Paul Porter to study small-scale on-farm biofuel production. Their project is an innovative approach to farm-based energy sustainability that has been supported with both CERTs staff time and seed grant funding. We are also happy to share a presentation about this project at the end of this post. Joel: You have recently completed your masters thesis studying cold presses and their potential utility for various crops in Minnesota. How did this project begin? Seth: During 2006, amid rapidly escalating diesel fuel prices, we became aware of increasing regional interest in small-scale biofuel production using oilseed crops such as canola,...
Joel Haskard
Tue, 03/24/2009 - 1:14pm
This post is an interview between CERTs Staffer Joel Haskard and USDA Rural Development “Rural Energy for America Program” grant writer, Kellye Rose The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) guidelines are about to be released. What is this program and why should clean energy resource team members be interested? This is a great program for people in the rural areas to receive funding help with renewable energy and energy efficiency projects related to business use (not residential). There are both grant opportunities (up to 25% of eligible project cost) and guaranteed loan opportunities (up to 50% of project cost). You can also apply for a combination grant and guaranteed loan. The guaranteed loan is a guarantee from the government to...
Dan Thiede
Mon, 11/03/2008 - 12:03pm
Updated Thu, 10/27/2012   Now is a great time to add a solar or small wind system to your home or business! The Clean Energy Project Builder will provide everything you need to get started. There are a number of solar installers in Minnesota, and they’re all available at the Clean Energy Project Builder online directory. The Clean Energy Project Builder will allow you to research and find solar installers near you that can help you with your projects. Visit the website now >>
Dan Thiede
Wed, 10/15/2008 - 11:00am
With energy costs on the rise and low-income families feeling the greatest pressure, the Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance are teaming up to weatherize homes and install solar heat systems, with a little help from the Central Clean Energy Resource Team. Fuel Poverty   Energy costs are on the rise and predicted to continue growing over the winter heating season—with home energy bills rising right along with them. This will have a dramatic impact on families across the “frost belt” who need to stay warm, many of whom were not able to pay their bills last winter. Rising energy costs have been all over the news, but only a few articles have focused specifically on the impact these heating costs will have on low-income Americans, who already contribute an...
Dan Thiede
Mon, 08/18/2008 - 9:13am
QUESTION Are any programs available to fund transmission interconnection studies and wind studies for C-BED projects? ANSWER Yes, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security has a Rural Wind Energy Development Revolving Loan Fund. The purpose of the Rural Wind Energy Development Revolving Loan program is to provide financial assistance to owners of eligible community-based wind energy projects for wind studies and transmission interconnection studies. Read on to learn more! Rural Wind Energy Development Revolving Loan Fund   Loan proceeds must be used to fund wind studies and transmission interconnection studies only. Eligible loan applicants must: Complete an adequate interconnection feasibility study that indicates the wind project may be interconnected to the transmission system with system upgrades of less than ten percent of the...
Dan Thiede
Wed, 07/23/2008 - 10:47am
Many land owners across the state have been approached recently with offers for wind energy land leases, leading the Northwest, Southeast, and West Central Regional Clean Energy Resource Teams to hold meetings in June where they discussed the ins and outs of land leases for wind development. The meetings helped to educate the many attendees on wind rights and development choices, on how to ensure you get a fair agreement, on your options, about where to access resources for advice, and on some sense of the big picture and why this is an opportunity. Read on to view the resources from the meetings, including notes and presentations. The more you know, the more you and your community have to gain! NW CERT Meeting on Land Leases for Wind Development, June 18, 2008. Northwest Region Meeting Summary...
Joel Haskard
Thu, 06/26/2008 - 5:38pm
On Monday, June 16, 2008 from 1-3pm The Minnesota Department of Commerce gave a web seminar on the Phase 1 results of their Minnesota Dispersed Renewable Generation (DRG) Study. The purpose of the webinar was to inform the public of the first phase results, key findings, and conclusions. The study team gave a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the DRG Phase I report to the MN Public Utilities Commission. This blog post should allow you to: 1. Understand Dispersed Generation 2. Watch and listen to the DG webinar presentation 3. Get a summary of important slides 4. Learn how to get more info and provide comments on the Study What is Dispersed Generation?   Definition: Dispersed generation is a decentralized power plant, feeding into the distribution level power-grid and typically sized between 10 and 150 MW. (...
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 3:25pm
CREBs in Brief   The Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREB) program is administered by the Internal Revenue Service and provides bond authorization for public entities on a competitive basis for renewable electricity projects. The benefit of the CREB program is that public entities receive the bonds at “zero” percent interest. The revenue or cost savings from the renewable electricity systems are utilized to pay off the bonds. The program was initially authorized via the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and designed as an alternative to the Production Tax Credit (PTC)—which can be utilized by private renewable energy developers and investor-owned utilities—to be used by cooperative electric and public power utilities. Beyond these utilities other eligible entities include schools, local governments, tribal governments. The program has provided two rounds of bonding...
Blowing cellulose insulation into an attic after air sealing
Phil Smith
Mon, 05/19/2008 - 3:31pm
Phil Smith, Energy Specialist at the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, MN Department of Commerce, answers a question from a Southeastern Minnesota resident preparing to re-shingle her roof. The Question “I’m adding insulation to the attic of an older farmhouse and am getting conflicting advise regarding the need to insure adequate ventilation in the attic or develop an envelope in the attic that supposedly removes the need to provide adequate ventilation. I will be re-shingling the roof next year and read that the shingle warranties require adequate attic ventilation. What do you recommend? Thanks for whatever help you can provide.” The Answer   The very first measure that should be presented to you really is one of air sealing the attic. Air leakage from within the home is the single largest source of...
Dan Thiede
Fri, 05/09/2008 - 11:04am
There is a buzz right now in MN about land leases for wind development   We have compiled a few resources so that you know what is going on, and what you need to know before you sign. If you are going to make a decision, make it an educated one! Attend upcoming CERT meetings in Northwest, Southeast, and West Central MN on this topic! Land lease offers for wind development have some saying beware – Worthington Daily Globe 5/9/08 “WINDOM — A San Francisco, California-based company working to get landowners to sign lease agreements for potential wind development has some local...


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    CERTs Partners:

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