The Minnesota Project's blog features news, analysis, resources, musings, and events Centered on Sustainability in the areas of clean energy, local food, and conservation agriculture. Visit our Web site to learn more about the organization and our work at www.mnproject.org.
Brake for Breakfast
Bike-to-work breakfast in the parking lot, right off the Midtown Greenway
MINNEAPOLIS – After a two-year hiatus, the biggest bike-to-work breakfast celebrating Bike Walk Week in the Twin Cities is back! The Minnesota Environmental Fund, a workplace giving program for Minnesota-based environmental organizations, is sponsoring the resurrected event along with the tenants of the Greenway building that had organized the event from 2008-2010. The event will provide a free breakfast for bikers and walkers on Wednesday, June 12th from 7am until 9am. Mayor R. T. Rybak and many other elected officials will join us.
For breakfast we will be serving pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt and muesli, granola bars, and Peace Coffee and juice. We are expecting between 300 and 500 (or more) walkers and bikers. The HUB bike co-op is also offering a free bike check clinic and handing out free bike patch kits. Additionally, Eureka Recycling will be working with us to compost and make this a zero-waste event.
This event is part of Bike Walk Week (www.bikewalkweek.org ) and is sponsored by Minnesota Environmental Fund (MEF) and Co-Sponsored by: Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), Civia, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Envision Minnesota, Eureka Recycling, Great Plains Institute, Headwaters Foundation, Midtown Greenway Coalition, Nonprofits Assistance Fund, Peace Coffee, SOS Building Services, Inc., The Energy Conservatory, Wellington Management, Will Steger Foundation
For more information and to register for the free event go to http://brakeforbreakfast2013.eventbrite.com
The Minnesota Environmental Fund (MEF) is a state-wide network of Minnesota’s most respected and responsible non-profit environmental and conservation organizations (including THE MINNESOTA PROJECT) working together to protect, conserve and restore Minnesota’s environment through employee giving. Joining MEF is one of the most effective ways to protect the Minnesota we know and love for future generations. www.mnenvirofund.org
The Minnesota Project was recently invited by Farm Connection’s Dan Hoffman to tout our energy efficiency work and super LED poultry lights on John Zimmerman’s turkey farm. Check out this great video from KSMQ with CERTs, Great River Energy, McLeod Co-op Power, and ONCE Innovations to learn all about lowering production costs to boost farmer profitability!
If you are interested in a farm energy audit or simply want answers to farm energy questions, please contact The Minnesota Project at (651) 789-3330. Also, check out our mid-project report on LED lights for poultry producers.
Farmers know how busy spring can be. There is a lot to put in place now in order for the rest of the year to run smoothly and successfully. This year’s late planting has made the month of May all the busier for many.
When it rains it pours, they say. And, true to the saying, there are a number of deadlines this month for federal energy funding program applications that farmers might consider in order to help their farms run more smoothly and successfully.
First up, today! is the deadline for the last ‘ranking period’ this year in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP helps provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices, including sharing in the cost of a farm energy audit, and, once an audit has been done, offering a cost-share on the recommended equipment upgrades. Contact your local USDA Service Center to talk with NRCS staff about the program and inquire about next year – even if you can’t make the deadline today.
May 31 – REAP
Next, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides assistance – both grants and loan guarantees – to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems or complete energy efficiency improvements. Grant funding under REAP offers up to 25% of total project costs, and loans and grant/loan combinations will cover up to 75% of total project costs.
REAP applications for energy efficiency projects require an energy audit that shows energy savings. Depending on the project budget, there are differing requirements for the energy audit report and who conducts it. While in years past REAP has helped pay for an energy audit, that opportunity is not available this year.
For more information, contact your local USDA Rural Development office. When ready to apply, submit your application by May 31 to Ron Omann, USDA Rural Development, 375 Jackson Street, Suite 410, St. Paul, MN 55101. (Loan applications can be submitted until July 15.)
May 31 – CSP
Update: The May deadline has been rescinded, and until a new deadline is announced, the NRCS will be accepting applications on an on-going basis.
The Conservation Stewardship Program provides participants with an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. It encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, including implementing energy efficiency upgrades. Payments are based on conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher the payment. The USDA-NRCS has announced $175 million in funding for enrolling an additional 12.6 million acres in the program this year
To determine if your farm is right for CSP, you can use the self checklist (PDF). Then, when ready, submit an application to your local NRCS office
by May 31 to ensure you’re considered for this year’s funding.
If you decide to move ahead with any of these programs and are in need of a farm energy auditor, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with someone well qualified. Call 651-789-3324 or email email@example.com.
This is Fritz Ebinger and Joel Haskard from CERTs writing to let you know about an opportunity to make solar electric fencing on the farm an easy, affordable choice.
What’s the deal? If you or someone you know are planning to install electric fencing or replace old batteries this spring, you now have a bargain available with a special $50 discount for the Blitzer 30 Mile Solar Fence Charger (pictured below) at Mills Fleet Farm. The unit is on sale for $239.99 through April 30th, 2013 (down from its regular price of $289.99). ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT!
What are the features? The Blitzer is great for rotational grazing and remote applications and is capable of powering long fence lengths (up to 30 miles). A fully-charged battery can last two weeks, even in cloudy weather. No longer will you have to trudge around replacing and recharging batteries, or worry about costly electrical connections.
How can you get one? The Blitzer unit is available for $239.99 online at http://www.fleetfarm.com. Or if you’d prefer to purchase a Blitzer at a Mills Fleet Farm store, download a coupon to print and bring with you by clicking on the image below or visiting http://mncerts.org/blitzer. The coupon can only be used at the following Minnesota store locations: Alexandria, Baxter, Fergus Falls, Owatonna, and St. Cloud.
Get a coupon in the mail: If printing the coupon doesn’t work, you can have a coupon mailed to you by replying to this email or contacting Joel at 612-625-8759 or Fritz at 651-789-3330.
Need more background? To learn more about the Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative and download a factsheet on solar fences, please visit: http://GetSolar.MnCERTs.org
Spread the word: Feel free to share this with your neighbors and others who might be interested!
Thanks so much,
Joel Haskard and Fritz Ebinger
P.S. Exciting Funding Opportunity: Applications are available through May 31, 2013 for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants. This is an extended deadline, and the amount of available funding has tripled from $20 million to $60 million. These grants can fund up to 25% of a renewable energy project at a rural small business or farm, including solar. To learn more, visit the MN REAP webpage or download our REAP factsheet.
Clean Energy Resource Teams Co-Director
U of M Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
411 Borlaug Hall
1991 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108
Clean Energy Program Manager
The Minnesota Project
1885 University Ave. W., Suite 315
Saint Paul, MN 55104
ST. PAUL [April 2013] – The Minnesota Project and the Hastings Cooperative Creamery Company have partnered to develop strategic energy efficiency programming for dairy cooperatives and electric utilities. With grant support from the Minnesota Department of Commerce – Division of Energy Resources, The Minnesota Project will study ways dairy cooperatives can promote farm energy efficiency to boost dairy farm profitability and achieve utility conservation standards under state law.
Project partner Hastings Cooperative Creamery Company is a farmer-owned dairy cooperative based in Hastings, Minnesota with approximately 100 Minnesota and Wisconsin farmer members. Hastings Cooperative Creamery Company farmers market their raw milk through the co-op to supermarkets, convenience stores, schools, and food service under the Valley View Farms® label.
Throughout 2013, The Minnesota Project and Hastings Cooperative Creamery Company will gather basic data about farmer members’ energy use, create a bench-marking tool farmers can reference to compare their energy consumption to similarly situated dairies, and deliver 30 dairy farm energy audits to Minnesota-side members. The parties will document individual dairy farm and cooperative-wide energy savings potential in light of feasible energy efficiency measures.
Following the data collection phase, the partners will engage electric utilities, equipment suppliers, and interested stakeholders throughout 2014 to develop utility programming based on the dairy cooperative energy metrics. The Minnesota Project will demonstrate how agricultural energy efficiency programming can facilitate both farm profitability and electric utilities’ Conservation Improvement Programming (CIP), which challenges electric and natural gas utilities to reduce their electricity sales by a 1.5% average over three-year periods under Minnesota law. Ultimately, The Minnesota Project plans to replicate and scale up agricultural efficiency programming with utilities and agricultural cooperatives across the state.
About THE MINNESOTA PROJECT
The Minnesota Project champions programs for the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in communities across Minnesota. These programs are focused on the development, conservation and efficient use of renewable energy; farm practice and policy that promote profitable farms that protect and replenish the environment; and the production and consumption of local, sustainably grown foods.
Article by Joel Haskard
Maker of WoodMaster Furnaces leads tour, host dozens of attendees
RED LAKE FALLS, MN – Over thirty people toured the Northwest Manufacturing plant in Red Lake Falls on April 4th to learn about the biomass industry in Minnesota. Northwest Manufacturing is home of the Wood Master furnaces, which use cord wood and biomass pellets as their fuel source.
“These biomass furnaces can be a real win-win for communities in this area,” said Chris May, the Northwest Regional Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) which organized the event. “It is great to see a technology where people can reduce their heating costs while supporting local manufacturing jobs at the same time.”
See photos from the event! Click on the slideshow below or click here to see the set on Flickr.
- For more information about Wood Master natural energy products, visit http://www.WoodMaster.com
- For more information about the Clean Energy Resource Teams, visit http://www.CleanEnergyResourceTeams.org
- Join hundreds of people interested in biomass at the 2nd Annual Heating the Midwest Conference & Expo April 24-26 in Carlton, MN. Visit http://heatingthemidwest.org
ABOUT CERTS AND TMP: The Clean Energy Resource Teams connect Minnesotans and their communities with resources to identify and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The Clean Energy Resource Teams are diverse—individuals; small business owners; farmers; members of community groups; local utility representatives; educators; local, state and federal government staff and elected leaders—and all share a common interest: They want strong communities, local jobs, and secure, clean, reliable energy.
CERTs is a partnership of the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Eureka Recycling, Southwest Regional Development Commission, The Minnesota Project, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Learn more at www.mncerts.org and www.mnproject.org.
Co-Director, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs)
University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships & Extension
Former Clean Energy Program Manager, Ryan Stockwell, was recently awarded the Earth Caretaker Award by the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay for his work on renewable energy and practice of no-till farming techniques. Stockwell served as The Minnesota Project’s Clean Energy Program Manger from 2007-2009 where he focused on developing anaerobic digesters and renewable energy opportunities.
Stockwell majored in Social Change and Development and History at UW-Green Bay, graduating in 2001. He earned a master’s degree in History at Miami University and a PhD in History from the University of Missouri before coming to The Minnesota Project. He left the organization in 2009 to return to his family farm and serve as Agriculture Program Manager for the National Wildlife Federation, where he continues to advocate for smart agriculture policy that reduces impacts to wildlife and natural resources. He also provides strategic leadership in eliminating barriers to farmer adoption of cover crops.
Stockwell will be a guest speaker at the EMBI conference to be held April 22-24 at UW-Green Bay. The EMBI conference will include a panel discussion on genetically modified organisms, a focus on the Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Project and a conference on food and local sustainability.
The Minnesota Project congratulates Ryan on his award, his contributions to TMP, and his many successes. Our hats are off to you, Ryan.