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34 FANTASTIC Clean Energy Projects!

January 9, 2014


Media Contact:
Dan Thiede
CERTs Communications Coordinator
UofM Extension & Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships or 612-626-0556

Download this release as a PDF  |  View this release on the web

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 – It is an energizing New Year for communities across Minnesota. The state’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are awarding Seed Grants to 34 innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities from Slayton to Grand Marais, and from Warren to Rochester.

The 34 funded projects received a total of $132,500 across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach, community building, and research. These awards mark the seventh round of Seed Grants from the group.

“CERTs provides these Seed Grants with two primary objectives in mind. First, to encourage implementation of community-based clean energy projects across the state. Second, to provide an educational forum for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, community, and ecological benefits,” says Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director. Project funding will put Minnesotans to work throughout 2014 by supporting technical assistance labor services.

CERTs began its Seed Grant program in 2006 and has awarded more than $922,500 to over 223 projects. CERTs has also provided non-financial assistance to countless more projects since the partnership began in 2003. 2014 funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

The demand for clean energy projects in Minnesota is high—CERTs received 78 Seed Grant applications, requesting a total of nearly $350,000. The 34 projects receiving grants are getting to work now in their communities and their efforts will be completed by the end of 2014.

A complete list of funded projects by region and map of projects can be accessed at

Schools in Minnesota receiving grants will be busy taking advantage of clean energy opportunities:

  • Madison, Marietta, Nassau Elementary School will upgrade its gymnasium lighting and replace exit lighting with more efficient LED lights. The school will also be working with the City of Madison to pilot an energy-saving education program for the 4th grade class this school year.
  • Hibbing Community College will begin a Minnesota Power Pack Program, an innovative solar market development effort that helps home and business owners lower their electric bills with solar energy and provides students enrolled in Hibbing Community College’s Solar Photovoltaic Technician training program with field experience in solar site assessment.
  • The Northwest Research and Outreach Center at University of Minnesota Crookston will research the use of cattails as a biofuel heat source at the headquarters of the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, where excessive cattail growth is choking out many of the restored shallow wetlands of the largest wetland and prairie restoration project in North America.
  • The New London-Spicer High School Agriculture Department will build a solar greenhouse that uses sunlight to heat the greenhouse through an in-ground heat storage system, and will install a small wind turbine to power the electrical equipment. This project will serve as a powerful educational tool for the school and the larger community.
  • Red Rock Central School District in Lamberton will retrofit their auditorium stage lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LED lights. The auditorium is used by area communities for events such as dance recitals and fundraisers.

Cities and counties are also eager to tap into energy savings and harness clean energy with their grants:

  • The Cities of Brownton, Detroit Lakes, Russell, Slayton, and Tamarack received grants to upgrade their street lighting to energy-efficient LED technologies.
  • Richfield Housing & Redevelopment Authority will help 50-75 Latino homeowners save energy with the Home Energy Squad Enhanced Program through home visits and installation of low-cost materials.
  • The City of Duluth’s solar PV project will advance four or more small-scale solar electric installations at community park buildings, gardens, and public locations.
  • Cass County Economic Development Corporation will rehabilitate commercial buildings in Backus and Longville—installing new energy-efficient furnaces and insulation, windows, doors, and roofing.
  • The City of Warren will add insulation to the walls of the Godel Library to lower operational costs.
  • The Rochester Olmstead Planning Department will conduct outreach and education about the Energy Commission’s Energy Action Plan to spur energy conservation and efficiency.
  • City of Royalton will work with SheerWind, Inc to install 80kW of wind energy using SheerWind’s INVELOX technology to reduce electricity bills and contribute to Royalton’s work as a Minnesota GreenStep City.

Several grants will support the installation of clean energy technologies at community organizations:

  • White Earth Land Recovery Project will install ten solar thermal units on tribal homes on and near the reservation. They will use this as a training program which can be shared with other tribal communities in northwestern Minnesota.CERTs Solar Thermal
  • Rural Renewable Energy Alliance will partner with an independent turkey producer in Rothsay, MN to use solar transpired air for ventilation make-up to dramatically reduce and stabilize energy costs.
  • Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery Store in Clinton, MN is planning to save more than 30% on energy costs by upgrading to new ENERGY STAR freezers. With CERTs funding and broad community support they hope that the reduced operating costs will help strengthen their rural grocery business.
  • Small Wind Turbines, LLC will be working with Hunt Utilities Group (HUG) in Pine River to install and test a new 20kW wind turbine and compare the production to HUG’s existing 20kw turbine.
  • Christ Lutheran Church in Slayton will replace 15 of its original 25 windows with more energy-efficient windows. Volunteer members will learn from a contractor and then help with the work.
  • Sustainable Resources Center will work in the Como Neighborhood of Saint Paul to educate residents about home energy efficiency by recruiting 15-30 families interested in detailed home energy audits and follow-up work to tighten up their homes.

Many funded groups will be specifically conducting education and outreach to raise clean energy awareness:

  • Kingfield Neighborhood Association in Minneapolis will explore the potential for a community solar garden and encourage community buy-in on the concept.
  • The Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis will pilot an Energy Coach training to increase awareness and utilization of existing energy resources at local businesses.
  • South East Como Improvement Association in Minneapolis will work with neighborhood property owners to explore putting their flat roofs to work as community solar garden host sites and green roofs.
  • Greater Northfield Sustainability Collaborative will create an online database to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy among Carleton, St. Olaf, area nonprofits, and others in Northfield.
  • EnergyStar logoEcolibrium3 will work in Duluth and St. Louis County to create targeted media materials to educate and inspire community members to lessen their energy usage at home and at work.
  • B-Well in Bemidji will conduct an energy audit of Rail River Folk School and Harmony Foods Cooperative to provide an educational opportunity for those who are considering clean energy options.

A handful of funded projects will also work across larger regions on clean energy:

  • Region Nine Economic Development Commission will work in Amboy and Kiester, MN with community organizations planning to renovate old school buildings and convert them to community centers with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
  • Headwaters Regional Development Commission will collaborate with the Sustainability Office at Bemidji State University to identify clean energy financing needs in the Bemidji region.
  • Conservation Corps Minnesota is collaborating with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance to create an apprenticeship in renewable energy outreach and solar technologies. This Solar Heat Outreach Specialist will educate community service organizations and homeowners in Northwest Minnesota on the benefits of solar heat and funding programs available to address energy poverty.
  • Cook County Local Energy Project will implement a community-based energy action project using video and print to expand public awareness and knowledge about energy conservation and efficiency.
  • The Center for Renewable Energy Education and Demonstration will educate middle and high school teachers about the clean energy industry so they can teach their students about careers in the field.
  • Minnesota Renewable Energy Society will host renewable energy tours of existing projects to eliminate the mystery and confusion that often surround renewable energy installations and offer hands-on experiences with the technologies.

A complete list of funded projects by region, map of funded projects, and past projects can be found on the CERTs website at

You can browse case studies of past projects at

About CERTs: The Clean Energy Resource Teams—or CERTs—are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. CERTs empowers communities and their members to adopt energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies and practices for their homes, businesses, and local institutions. CERTs is a partnership of the University of Minnesota Extension and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Great Plains Institute, Southwest Regional Development Commission, The Minnesota Project, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.


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