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MN Dept. of Commerce
07/13/2017 - 11:16am
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that Minnesota has received an additional $13 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program. This second and final installment of funding means that Minnesotans who qualified for energy assistance after money ran out in mid-April and who applied before the May 31 program deadline will now receive assistance to pay their heating bills from the past winter. Minnesota received $101 million, or the bulk of its federal energy assistance funding, last October. The new federal installment brings the 2016-2017 heating season total to $114 million. “The heating season is over, but many Minnesotans who were counting on help to pay their heating bills will get the help they need,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy office. “Many Minnesotans struggle...
New solar-powered LED lit signs welcome people to Slayton
Annette Fiedler
07/12/2017 - 12:46pm
Three signs welcoming people to the City of Slayton are now illuminated using the power of the sun. The new entrance signs use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power energy-efficient LED light bulbs. The signs are backlit with LED lights. A 280-watt solar panel was installed to power each of the three signs, and battery systems are used so that the signs can remain off the grid, avoiding expensive connections to electric lines. Josh Malchow, Slayton’s City Administrator, reported that “After considering the overall cost of running power to the sites or using solar, the city felt that choosing solar power was the best option.” The City of Slayton received a $2,025 Seed Grant from the Southwest Clean Energy Resource Team (SW CERT) to install the signs. Annette Fiedler, SW CERT Coordinator, said that “the SW CERT Seed Grant funds were used to help offset the labor cost to install...
Leaping into action
Peter Lindstrom
07/11/2017 - 1:07pm
With the knowledge that energy can account for as much as 10 percent of a local government’s annual operating budget, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently launched the Local Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP). LEEP has a straightforward aim: Assist local governments with completing energy audits.   Why save energy? “Because improving the energy efficiency of city halls, schools and courthouses is a cost-effective strategy to address facility maintenance needs, help stimulate the local economy, create jobs, expand markets for energy-efficient technologies, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Alex Cecchini, LEEP Program Manager. Local governments can also lead by example through improving energy efficiency in their own operations, motivating the private sector and other stakeholders to...
Sophia Krohn
Diana McKeown
06/20/2017 - 11:58am
“I am happy to be joining the CERTs team this summer! Due to my leadership role in Yale’s Project Bright, a solar energy effort, I bring experience in community organizing behind clean energy solutions.” “I am particularly passionate about working on environmental justice for communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. This summer, I look forward to expanding the breadth of my clean energy knowledge with Metro CERT and supporting Metro CERT’s goal of implementing concrete energy projects. My work will center on increasing energy literacy in underserved communities through organizing with the Clean Energy Conversations Tour and connecting local youth groups with the Saving Watts and Drops Fundraisers opportunity.” “I am a rising...
First solar installation at Ney Nature Center
Joel Haskard
06/19/2017 - 4:38pm
Located in southeast Minnesota in Henderson (pop. 866), the Ney Nature Center is great place to visit for bird watching, hiking, cross country skiing…and learning about solar energy! To learn more about their Southeast CERT Seed Grant project we chatted with Becky Pollack, Ney Nature Center’s Executive Director.   Tell us a little about this project.   Becky Pollack: The Ney Nature Center partners with the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) Program and hosts a YES! Coordinator as staff within our office. Discussion on steps to reduce the Ney Nature Center’s carbon footprint began amongst staff as a way to model behaviors or habits to the general public that we would like to see others facilitate. These...
Speakers Morgan and Olya from CCLEP efficiency event
Marcell Mikkelson
06/19/2017 - 4:36pm
Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) is a community organization located in Grand Marais with a goal to educate people of all ages about energy efficiency and renewable energy. With help from Northeast CERT, CCLEP was able to host a series of events called Energy Efficiency Evenings aimed at educating people about ways to reduce energy consumption at home, and even think about their renewable energy options. There were four events in the Energy Efficiency Evenings series, all with different topics: The first event was a screening of Chasing Ice, a documentary highlighting the work of climate change photographer Jim Balog. The second and third events focused on increasing energy efficiency at home and information on solar PV systems, respectively. Guests were informed of simple ways that they could reduce energy use...
Solar installation at Minnesota Discovery Center
Marcell Mikkelson
06/16/2017 - 2:42pm
Since it opened its doors in 1977, the Minnesota Discovery Center (MDC) has been an important presence in educating Minnesotans about the history of the Iron Range and Minnesota. Today, the MDC is taking steps to educate Minnesotans about our energy future. With support from Minnesota Power, Silicon Energy, and of course, Northeast CERT, the MDC was able to bring their educational Solar PV project into reality. Although the MDC was able to ultimately receive assistance from multiple partners, it was not a project that was completed overnight. In fact, it took years (four and a half to be exact) of planning, communicating, and network building in order to make it happen. “The diligence to see this project from concept to completion was essential.” Said Jim Paulsen, who was the lead staff for the solar project. The goal was to not only...
Orr Recreation and Resource Center
Marcell Mikkelson
06/15/2017 - 3:56pm
The Orr Recreation and Resource Center recently purchased the old Orr High School and began the arduous work of remodeling it. One of the first changes that they decided to make was to replace the old light bulbs in the building with new LEDs. They decided to replace the exit, emergency, and security lighting to begin with; once that important step was out of the way they could focus on the rest of their remodeling plans. These LED bulbs were an excellent choice by the Center since they have a lifespan of up to five times longer than any other comparable bulb on the market. Although LEDs are more expensive than standard bulbs up front, that cost is brought down significantly when you take their extremely long lifespan and reduced energy consumption into account. To learn more see the CERTs Right Light Guide. Orr...
Beat the Peak with Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities
Joel Haskard
06/14/2017 - 4:41pm
Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities started with the goal of helping customers become more energy aware and lower their power bills by using energy more efficiently and reducing the energy consumed during peak usage periods. On top of that, the utility wanted to: Engage Lake Crystal customers and the community in efforts to provide safer, more dependable, and less costly energy Improve the energy consumption habits of their customers Reduce the costs (economically and environmentally) of transmission and consumption of electricity in Lake Crystal, specifically during periods of peak demand In order to accomplish these goals, the utility teamed up with the Lake Crystal GreenStep City Committee and Heartland...
Saving Watts and Drops
Alexis Troschinetz
06/12/2017 - 4:39pm
Minnesota utilities: Join CERTs in a webinar to hear all about our new campaign, Saving Watts and Drops. We’re focusing on utilities in this first wave of outreach on the campaign because utilities are such a big potential partner. Feel free to get acquainted with the campaign at savingwattsdrops.org. Saving Watts and Drops is rooted in the idea that many small energy savings throughout Minnesota will add up to big energy savings together. One option of the campaign helps youth and community groups conduct fundraisers with plug-and-play energy and water saving products in collaboration with their electric or natural gas utilities. Another option helps cities, community-level organizations, utilities, or other interested parties in distributing energy-saving products for free or at a low cost using one’s...

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