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Photos from the 2018 CERTs Conference
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:54pm
Over 500 Minnesotans attended the seventh statewide CERTs Conference, connecting to build a clean energy future in their communities! March 28-29 were two truly energizing days in St. Cloud, MN for the 2018 CERTs Conference. Communities, organizations, and individuals showed up to figure out how they can get projects done, save money, and be part of Minnesota’s fastest growing jobs sector. See photos from the event:   Conference presentations available for download   The 2018 CERTs Conference featured 80 speakers who shared their experience and expertise. Their presentations are now available so you can see what you...
Seven communities won 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 04/03/2018 - 2:15pm
Seven Minnesota communities are recipients of the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The awards were presented March 28, 2018 at the CERTs Community Driven Clean Energy Conference in St. Cloud. This year’s awards honor community-organized clean energy initiatives in the Town of Crystal Bay, City of Edina, Hennepin County, Minnesota State University Mankato, City of Red Wing, City of Warren, and Sustain Winona. These communities are contributing to the state’s clean energy goals with programs, policies and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation. “Minnesota has ambitious clean energy goals and the objective of our Clean Energy Community Awards is to acknowledge the great work of...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Thu, 02/01/2018 - 4:55pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in our seven regions! Each region awarded around $20,000, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded more than $1 million to over 300 projects since 2006. Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs Seed Grants page. Download a PDF with all projects   |   Download a Press Release   |   Share on Facebook and Twitter...
Award recipients from the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:46pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced the opening of the application process for the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards (CECA) to recognize the good work of Minnesota communities in helping achieve the state’s clean energy goals. Commerce is the sponsor and coordinator of the program, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. Applications and award information are available, and applications will be accepted until February 12, 2018. The awards will recognize communities that implement planning, programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation and will be given in two categories, Achievement and Planning. This is the second year the awards have been given, and you can...
In 2016 there were 57,351 clean energy jobs in MN
Dan Thiede
Thu, 09/07/2017 - 2:49pm
Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) today released a new report called Clean Jobs Midwest from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs that finds that Minnesota now has 57,351 total clean energy jobs. In the last 12 months, Minnesota’s clean energy industry grew by 5.3 percent, adding 2,893 jobs—3.8 times faster than overall job growth in the state. Despite the rapid growth that has already occurred, clean energy technology continues to present a significant opportunity for business and job growth. “This report tells the story of how Minnesota’s rapid transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy is driving job creation all across our state,” said Gregg Mast, executive director of...
Minnesota Geothermal Heat Pump Association Conference
Joel Haskard
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 1:15pm
A recent Finance & Commerce article highlighted the installation of a new geothermal system at Cargill Philanthropies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The article served as a great reminder that geothermal is an excellent—and often forgotten—energy technology. Not only that, but the state’s annual geothermal conference is coming up next week! Jeff Beiriger, Executive Director with the Minnesota Geothermal Heat Pump Association (MGHPA) notes, “[Geothermal] systems stand on their own merits—they work, they save money, they don’t emit carbon, and they’re a renewable resource. The fact is, people...
Students support the environment at 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester
Peter Michaels
Tue, 12/13/2016 - 2:59pm
Over 500 individuals attended the one-day EarthFest Expo, which is a part of a weeklong EarthFest celebration hosted at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. This celebration brings people together to learn about environmental products and services, get involved in local sustainability efforts, and take part in clean-up events. The EarthFest Expo was hosted on April 24, 2016, at the Mayo Civic Center and offered a lot to those who attended the free event. This year’s expo featured 40 vendors of environmental products and services, informational displays, and the Rochester Public Library’s book bike. Vendor booths at the 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester. “Even though we have a lot of good volunteers, the majority of the work falls on about six of us. The CERTs grant took a lot of pressure off our funding concerns, so that really helped,” said Ivan Idso, the lead organizer...
Joel Haskard
Wed, 11/30/2016 - 4:30pm
Austin Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit electric, water, and natural gas utility, serving more than 12,000 customers within a community of over 23,000 people in Austin, MN. The utility officially opened its new, energy-efficient 105,000 sq. ft. Service and Operation Center at the end of July. We interviewed General Manager Mark Nibaur to learn more.   Tell us a little bit about the new building.   Mark Nibaur: The building allowed Austin Utilities to consolidate departments operating out of seven different buildings and three properties. The new facility has all operations from customer service, administrative, gas/water/electric construction, meter shops and labs for all three utilities, warehouse, vehicle storage and fleet repair. The new building would be labeled as a “Typical Midwest Utility and Public Works” style. The facility incorporates an...
The sun rises over Hutchinson’s new solar PV project, the largest on a landfill in Minnesota, and the first ballast-mounted on a brownfield. Hutchinson’s wastewater treatment facility, the recipient of the array’s electricity, can be seen in the background
Dan Thiede
Tue, 08/09/2016 - 2:34pm
EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative (RE-Powering) encourages the revitalization and reuse of current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites through the development of renewable energy projects, when such development is aligned with a community’s vision for the site. In this way, communities can expand their energy portfolio, make dormant or under-utilized sites productive, and boost their local economy. To learn more about RE-Powering, CERTs interviewed Adam Klinger, who runs the initiative for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. Why should people consider siting renewable energy projects on contaminated lands?   Adam Klinger: Siting renewable energy projects on formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites allows communities to make lands with limited...
Attendees learn about 10MW solar PV array under construction at Camp Ripley
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Fri, 08/05/2016 - 3:22pm
The U.S. Military and National Guard have been leaders when it comes to adopting clean energy, and Camp Ripley in Little Falls is ahead of the pack in Minnesota. What are they doing? That’s what 50 Minnesotans recently found out! On Tuesday, August 2nd, the Minnesota National Guard Camp Ripley Training Center opened their doors to the public for a Central CERT tour to show off their amazing work to make their facility a national leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy production, and energy security.   We started off with a lineup of great presenters Marty Skoglund, Environmenal Program Manager for the Minnesota National Guard: Marty started out by telling us about the incredibly biodiverse setting the Camp is located in and their efforts to protect and preserve this unique wilderness. He then...
USDA Rural Development Program Summary
Alexis Troschinetz
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:24am
USDA Rural Development offers an array of programs to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural Minnesota. A new Program Summary guide offers an overview of all programs—it’s a must-read resource for learning about how your goals and projects could be supported. What exactly does USDA Rural Development do in Minnesota? Offer loans, grants and loan guarantees to support essential services such as housing, economic development, health care, first responder services and equipment, and water, electric and communications infrastructure. Promote economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. Offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. Provide technical assistance to help...
Solar on the Fuller Farm barn near Trimont, MN
Marie Wood
Sun, 06/26/2016 - 2:09pm
This article is an excerpt from the original by Marie Wood at “The Land” magazine. When the Fullers decided to save the barn on their farm near Trimont, MN and add on a shop, they embarked on a decade-long journey that ended with a reclaimed barn, a geothermal heating and cooling system for energy efficiency, and a solar array to power the farm with renewable energy. Both Doug and Kris Fuller grew up on local farms. Kris grew up on a dairy farm down the road. Their acreage, which they bought around 1990, includes a farmhouse, small lake, woods, pasture and 70 tillable acres. In May, they installed a 14 kilowatt solar array on the barn’s south-facing roof; a southern exposure is critical. The payback is estimated at seven to 10...
REAP grant recipients in Minnesota
Fritz Ebinger
Thu, 02/18/2016 - 7:09am
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer announced this month that USDA is awarding five grants to help Minnesota rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. Funding comes from the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) and will go towards energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems. She also wants to remind Minnesotans that another deadline for REAP is coming up on May 2, 2016. Read on to learn more! “This funding will help implement energy-saving measures that help rural small business owners and agricultural producers remain competitive in an increasing global marketplace by allowing them to save on operational costs and contribute to their bottom line,”...
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:05pm
The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) were recently extended. Set to expire at the end of 2016, both will now continue to support clean energy in Minnesota for several years. We interviewed Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, to learn more about the importance of these tax credits to Minnesota and what the extension means for the industries in our state. As Commissioner, Rothman oversees the Department’s broad jurisdiction of more than 20 regulated industries. Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy.   Can you describe the federal ITC and PTC and how they work?   Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman: The ITC, which became...
Ground source heat pump
Matthew Chatterton
Wed, 01/27/2016 - 6:10pm
When building a new home all sorts of little details need to be decided: What color the walls will be, what the cabinets will look like, etc. Often the mechanical part of the home is given less attention. Options that cost more are easy to push off for something familiar and cheaper. Ground-source heating and cooling (often called geothermal in Minnesota) often gets set aside with its initial higher cost tag. This might be a big mistake. If geothermal is examined a little more closely one realizes that it is extremely efficient and that there is a 30% Federal Tax Credit through the end of 2016, and often utility rebates that can be combined to significantly lower the initial costs. Jim Poppen—a home owner in Hampton, MN—was able to do just that. The original costs to install the geothermal...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Wed, 01/06/2016 - 10:35am
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in the seven Minnesota CERT regions. Each region awarded around $20,000 worth of grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded over $1 million in Seed Grants to 269 projects since 2006. Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs Seed Grants page. New Opportunity: The Southwest CERT Region has seed grant funds still available that they are dedicating to focused project support. Click here to learn more about the SW Clean Energy Accelerator....
Attendees discuss our energy future
Lissa Pawlisch
Tue, 11/17/2015 - 12:39pm
During the month of October, 2015, folks in Mankato, Staples, and Grand Rapids had a chance to share their input on the Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan. CERTs hosted these three events (as well as an event in St. Paul) to gather feedback, with attendees participating in small group discussions on two of these five topics: Energy planning Industry & agriculture Buildings & energy efficiency Mobility, transportation & fuels Energy supply & grid modernization “It was great getting input from such diverse stakeholders across the state,” said Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director. “Folks in every region noted the need to scale up energy efficiency in existing buildings, and there was real interest in distributed energy systems with the recent boom in solar, continued growth in wind energy, and opportunities for greater use of biomass.” We want your input, too...
REAP recipients Popp Farm
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 2:45pm
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that USDA is awarding 34 grants that will help Minnesota rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. Funding will go towards energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems. “As more and more rural business owners and ag producers incorporate renewable energy and energy efficient measures into their business plans, the more they contribute to the economic sustainability of rural America,” Landkamer said. “This funding will help implement these energy-saving measures. These actions not only help them save on annual energy costs, but also reduce their environmental footprint.” USDA is providing $1.6 million in grants for 34 projects, throughout the state of Minnesota, financed through the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 4:22pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has just announced two new financing programs that are available for local governments and public entities in the state interested in pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. New Rev It Up Program to help local government units finance community energy efficiency, renewable energy projects   Through its new Rev It Up Program, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is soliciting request for proposals from local government units that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects. The program allows units of local government to compete for funding designed to increase community energy efficiency systems in the built environments and to increase renewable energy production throughout the state that result in reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas...
Minnesota GreenStep Cities at the 2015 Awards Breakfast
Philipp Muessig
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:39pm
The League of Minnesota Cities recognized 26 member cities and one tribal community at an awards ceremony for completing one of three participation steps in the GreenStep Cities initiative. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program designed to help Minnesota cities achieve their environmental sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. There are now a total of 83 cities in Minnesota that have completed one or more participation steps since the program began in 2010. Each of the GreenStep Cities program’s 28 best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions in the areas of transportation, buildings and lighting, environmental management, land use, and economic and community development. The actions are tailored to all types of Minnesota cities, and they focus on cost savings, energy...
The Villella household utilizes several technologies, including geothermal, Solar PV and electric vehicles.
Stacey Pederson
Wed, 05/13/2015 - 3:05pm
Many Minnesotans are adding solar to their homes, and some folks are doing even more. Sam Villella and his family are a few of those over achievers: in addition to solar PV on their roof, they heat and cool their home with geothermal and get around in two electric vehicles. Stacey Pederson recently spoke with Sam to learn more about his experience and lessons learned when implementing energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects. Stacey Pederson: Can you tell me about how you became interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy? Sam Villella: I never gave it much thought at all until I had children. They were certainly the spark that made me think about things. I am also conservative by nature and the dollars and cents of efficiency certainly made things attractive. Stacey: What all did you do? Sam: The first major thing I did was install a small 2.2 kW...
Midwest farm Energy Conference
Joel Haskard
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 3:07pm
The Midwest Farm Energy Conference and Renewable Energy Tour is coming up in Morris, MN on June 17-19, 2015! To learn more we interviewed Michael Reese, Renewable Energy Director at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris. Joel Haskard, CERTs: Tell us a little bit about the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. Mike Reese: The Midwest Farm Energy Conference will showcase renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in a production agriculture setting. In addition to presentations on a wide variety of agriculture energy-related topics, attendees will tour innovative energy systems including solar electric, solar thermal, wind energy, and renewable hydrogen and ammonia production. This is an opportunity to see the systems in use, and learn about some...

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