Minnesota Public Power Communities Receive Grants For Various Energy Projects

February 3, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
February 3, 2022

Minnesota public power communities have received grants that will help pay for a wide variety of energy-related projects.

Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) awarded seed grants to 74 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects — over twice as many as last year. The communities are funded for a wide range of energy projects, from improving buildings for energy efficiency to job skills training for careers in clean energy. This year, Seed Grants with a focus on underserved communities received additional funding.

These awards mark the 11th round of CERTs seed grants, totaling over $1.6 million to 467 projects since 2006.

City of Halstad/Halstad Municipal Utility

Wimmer Homes Insulation: Wimmer Homes, originally built in the 1960s for low-income elderly people to preserve independence in small homes, were designed with electric heat and have received insufficient R value updates through the years. This project will insulate the attics in 14 rental units owned and operated by the city of Halstad.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station: Halstad Municipal Utility would like to contribute to the electric vehicle grid by supplying a charging station close to their downtown. Whether it is bringing tourists to shop at their new General Store or visiting the “World’s Largest Sugar Beet,” the City of Halstad hopes to alleviate range anxiety for EV customers. They also plan to promote EV charging at homes with Off Peak incentives.

Willmar Municipal Utilities

Regency Park Energy Efficiency Outreach: Will create outreach events with multiple partners at the two Regency Mobile home parks in Willmar to educate residents about electrical efficiency, thermal savings with water efficiency, and communication about wastewater issues. Local utilities have identified these sites to have significantly high water and electricity use, and they hope to educate residents and help to reduce the average use per household.

City of Willmar

Willmar GreenStep Reboot: This project will jump start the GreenStep work previously initiated and bring in more community members not only to help implement best practices in the city, but also to provide educational lectures on best practices. The first goal is to create the Willmar Green Team with members from the utility, city, county, and other important regional organizers. These members will be the leaders and presenters for future community meetings.

St. Peter

Gustavus Adolphus College — Promoting Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency In Diverse Communities: This project will engage college students in local clean energy, energy efficiency, and education efforts. Gustavus interns will be mentored by, and work directly with, the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council (SMCEC) to develop collaborations and identify specific local opportunities. The interns will recruit students from area colleges to engage with SMCEC and develop local action plans for clean energy and energy efficiency, with an emphasis on underrepresented communities. Student groups will then execute the action plans in their local communities.

City of Warren

Clean Energy Independence — Model Plan for Design for Community Regeneration: The Warren Clean Energy Independence Plan will create actionable recommendations and be a regional model for clean energy independence. This work builds from visioning, planning, and prioritizing completed in the first phase of “Design for Community Regeneration (D4CR) Warren.” Running alongside D4CR Phase 2, this project will generate detailed analysis, recommendations, and tools for implementation that address opportunities to reduce energy burden, improve energy security and resilience, offer economic development opportunities, and build on Warren’s leadership to be a model for a just and regenerative energy path.

Electric Vehicle Charger: This project will provide a public EV charging station easily accessible to residents, employees, and visitors, and expand the community’s EV resources.

City of Worthington

Unidos MN Education Fund — Energy Justice Pueblitos: Unidos MN will conduct a series of train-the-trainer educational workshops on energy efficiency and electric bills with support from Minnesota’s Citizen Utility Board. Unidos MN plans to establish a cohort of community experts who will engage with Latinx community members on energy efficiency resources and tools, as well as provide bill consultation.

City of Jackson

Bike Local, Shop Local — Developing a Bicycle Incentive Program: This project will focus on adopting a “Bicycling Business Incentive Program” where Jackson area businesses will award those who bike to work or visit their business. This is an energy efficiency project that will foster behavior change using authentic community engagement and education, encourage participating businesses to offer a discount, allow employers to provide employee incentives (i.e. bicycle commuter reimbursements, bicycle shop discounts, etc.), and provide education about EVs and electric bikes.

City of Rochester

Channel One Regional Food Bank — Food Bank Lighting Retrofit: Channel One Regional Food Bank (C1) partnered with RETAP to evaluate their energy management practices and potential energy efficiency projects. Retrofitting C1’s lighting load was recognized as the best place to realize efficiencies and this project will implement the recommendations. By investing in energy efficiency upgrades, C1 will reserve general operating funds for their mission to end hunger in their region and demonstrate the viability of energy efficiency upgrades to other nonprofits, especially their network of 200 partnering food shelves and local food security programs.

Moorhead

Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity — ReStore HVAC Update: This project will improve the energy efficiency of the HVAC system within the ReStore/Habitat office building. The 18,000 square foot building serves nearly 17,000 customers annually, many of whom are low income. Two of the three HVAC systems are suspected to be original to the building, built in 1964. Cost savings from energy efficiency improvements to their systems will allow them to keep ReStore prices low and put more funding into their home building mission.

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation — Improving Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes: The grant will be used to assess the energy efficiency of manufactured homes in Northcountry Cooperative Foundation’s client Bennett Park Cooperative in partnership with Slipstream. The assessment data will be used to develop a scalable energy efficiency rehab loan and grant program for manufactured/mobile homeowners.

East Grand Forks

New Americans Integration Center — Building Energy Efficiency Assessment and Open House: The New Americans Integration Center will hire a professional to conduct an infrared assessment of the building. Information from the report will allow prioritization of weatherization projects for the building. Following completion of the weatherization improvements, an open house will take place to share the energy savings achievements with the Somali community and the community in general. An essay project for Somali students will encourage engagement around saving energy at home.

Mora

Kanabec County Agricultural Society — Light the Grounds: The project aims to change out exterior light fixtures at the fairgrounds in order to decrease annual use and cost to the organization. There will be a brochure, signs, and news articles to educate the community about the savings as a result of these changes, especially during the county fair. Additionally, the project will explore the possibility of adding a community solar garden on the fairgrounds with the intent of establishing an energy source for both the fairgrounds and for low-income households in the community.

Benson

Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches — MN Venture Farms Cold Climate Solar Greenhouse: Year-round food production is nearly impossible for Black and Indigenous People of Color and economically disadvantaged farmers who lack the capital to own and operate cold-climate solar greenhouses that can actively grow produce during Minnesota winters. This project will design a plan to implement and operate cold-climate solar greenhouses at multiple farm sites to increase access to locally produced, healthy foods year round; increase food security; reduce health disparities; promote sustainable agriculture; and provide agricultural education programs.

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