Regional Clean Energy News

By Dan Greenwood, Mankato Free Press, Monday, September 3, 2018

MANKATO — A decade ago, solar gardens in Minnesota were mainly owned and used by big businesses. There were few opportunities for residents to use solar energy unless you owned a home and could afford to install solar panels yourself. Renters and people with limited income were largely left out of the equation.

There is a growing movement in southern Minnesota to change that power dynamic.

“All of the community solar development that was going on was being done in the most minimal ways for the lowest impact to a very narrow group of energy users,” said Bruce Konewko, project developer for Minneapolis-based Cooperative Energy Futures. “We have a mission focused goal of democratizing energy.”

[Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council executive board member] Briana Baker, a coordinator for non-profit Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, has been reaching out to potential subscribers at local churches and community events. Her organization provides community outreach while Cooperative Energy Futures provides the logistics. The two entities share the common goals of growing the local economy, providing cheaper solar power to low-income people and providing training and jobs in solar installation to disadvantaged groups.

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Center for Energy and Environment

Minnesota's 44 distribution cooperative electric utilities and three generation and transmission cooperatives serve more than 2 million people and deliver roughly 20% of the energy we use. Electric co-ops are crucial to the economic development of our rural and urban communities — as a group, they embrace an inspiring range of creative and innovative programs, projects, and services, all driven to meet member needs. And unlike investor-owned utilities that are overseen by state public utilities commissions, cooperatives are regulated by their boards of directors with little state regulatory oversight of their activities.

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Mankato Brewery and Liv Aveda Salon have made energy saving upgrades

Aug 2, 2018

From the St. Peter Herald via Center for Energy and Environment:

Contractors who deal with electricity in homes and businesses and an energy efficiency nonprofit touted the state’s longstanding Conservation Improvement Program for the region’s legislators.

They said it will continue to need tweaks, but they wanted to ensure continued support among those lawmakers.

“This is the most cost-effective energy resource in the state,” said Jamie Fitzke, manager in program and policy for the Center for Energy and Environment. “It costs significantly less to purchase energy efficiency through incentives” than renewable energy.

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By Trey Mewes, Mankato Free Press, Jul 16, 2018

NORTH MANKATO — The North Mankato City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to accept a subscription to a community solar garden program that could save the city $162,000 over the next 25 years.

North Mankato will take the last spot at a newly opened facility near an Xcel substation in Sibley County run by Novel Energy Solutions. The garden is part of a legislatively mandated program for Xcel, which would offer bill credit to North Mankato as a result.

Finance Director Kevin McCann brought the proposal before the council at a public meeting earlier this month. He said the solar garden is the best bet out of similar programs because Novel Energy Solutions offers a guaranteed rebate of 1 cent per kWh.

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Receives national recognition for environmentalism

The Mankato Free Press, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

ST. PETER — Gustavus Adolphus College is one of six colleges nationwide lauded for its environmentalism by the U.S. Department of Education.

Gustavus was named a "Green Ribbon School" by the Education Department for its wide-ranging commitment to environmental education and sustainable practices.

The St. Peter college's well-known Nobel Conference has frequently focused on sustainability themes in the past decade, including energy, water and food in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The next two conferences, which often attract Nobel Laureates as speakers, will be focused on soil and climate change.

NOTE: Jim Dontje, Director of the Johnson Center of Environmental Innovation at Gustavus Adolphus College, is a member of the Executive Board of the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council and past Chair of the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force.

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Natural light, solar, sustainable products key

Mankato Free Press

Call it what you want — sustainability, going green, energy efficiency — but more and more businesses are interested. It’s good for the environment, is good for a businesses’ brand and it offers long term savings.

“Some don’t care, but more clients are informed about it now. They’ve done a lot of homework and have ideas about what they want to do and how to do it,” said Staci Flemming of ISG in Mankato.

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Mankato Area Public Schools, in partnership with Xcel Energy, has gone solar after contracting with Geronimo Energy to provide solar energy to most of its school buildings. In the solar subscription, two of Geronimo’s area solar gardens, Koppelman and Rengstorf, provide solar electricity to the district’s buildings currently served by a local utilities company.

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