Thursday, April 1, 2010

Help to finance renewable energy projects arrives!

Although many of us would love to incorporate renewable energy into our homes and make those energy efficiency improvements that will lower our utility bills, the upfront financing needed can be the roadblock that makes it seem impossible. Today marked a huge win for homeowners as the PACE legislation was signed into law, providing an opportunity for Minnesota homeowners to make those green dreams come true.

Read more below (information via Fresh Energy)

PACE: Financing Small Renewable & Efficiency Projects

Among homeowners and small business owners who clearly understand the long term financial and environmental benefits of installing small renewable energy projects and energy efficiency improvements, one of the biggest hurdles is the up-front cash expenditure needed. One innovative approach is a concept called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy). PACE is a low-interest funding mechanism that a municipal financing district or finance company may choose to offer to homeowners or small businesses to cover the up-front costs. The loans are then repaid over a set period of time via an annual assessment on the property tax bill.

The concept is not a new one; it is very similar to tax assessments made for new sidewalks or streetlights, but only applies to an individual property where the improvement is made. The PACE strategy can result in annual individual savings outweighing the annual individual assessments. PACE adds a financing option to individual debt or home equity debt. One advantage is that it avoids the need to utilize personal credit for the loans.

15 other states have already passed legislation that enables local entities to implement PACE financing. This year Fresh Energy has been working to pass PACE legislation in Minnesota - HF 3109 and SF 2720 - to help spur small-scale renewable and efficiency projects and create clean energy jobs. Recently the bill was incorporated into the Omnibus Jobs Bill, H.F. 2695; passed by both houses; and signed in to law by the Governor on April 1, 2010. PACE will help create jobs, improve the housing and building stock in our communities, and lessen demand for energy - thereby reducing the need for expensive new power plants and transmission lines. We eagerly anticipate implementation of this legislation.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Neighborhood Sustainability Conference

It's not often that a sustainability conference this good is offered for free. It's this weekend - take advantage of it!!

2010 Twin Cities Neighborhood Sustainability Conference

Friday, February 26, 2010

Minnesota Appliance Rebate

It's the moment we've all been waiting for... help buying those energy-efficient appliances!

Starting this Monday, March 1st, at 8:00am, the Minnesota’s Office of Energy Security has $5 million available for Minnesotans buying energy-efficient appliances (clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and freezers). All you have to do is reserve a rebate (not until March 1st).

The two primary goals of the rebate are to improve the energy efficiency of appliances in Minnesota, and to safely dispose of old ones. The appliance must be Energy Star rated.

The program is likely to catch on quickly, so sign up before the funds are gone.

Click here for more information on the Trade-In and Save program.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Become a GreenStep City

Interested in taking steps to make your city greener, save energy, and help address climate change? Take a look at GreenStep Cities.

GreenStep Cities is a voluntary system that helps recognize the actions your community has taken to improve sustainability and energy efficiency. It also offers a set of best practices to help guide your community to becoming even more sustainable.

The Minnesota USGBC Advocacy Committee is hosting a Sustainable Communities Forum on GreenStep Cities on March 4 (more details below). Representatives from the City of Apple Valley, a GreenStep Cities pilot community, will speak of their experiences. The City of Saint Paul will also present their new Sustainable Building Policy. Small group discussions will focus on answering questions about the best practices of GreenStep Cities. Cost of the event is free but registration is recommended. Contact Rita Trapp to RSVP and call 612-252-7135 with questions.

Thursday, March 4, 2010
12:00-1:30 pm (optional facility tours from 1:30-2:00 pm)
Hayes Community & Senior Center
14601 Hayes Road
Apple Valley, MN 55124

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Funding opportunities for Energy Improvements in Minnesota

Lack of funding is the most common hurdle to incorporating energy improvements. Luckily, there are a lot of options in Minnesota to help. Thank you to CERTS-NE for keeping track of these updates!

-A Request for Proposals (RFP) is posted for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) competitive funding; responses are being accepted through January 25, 2010. The RFP is available for download here.

-Questions and answers from the November 10, 2009 Local Government Programs Webinar are now available in the Resources section of the Department of Commerce website.

-Energy Saver residential energy efficiency rebates through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) are now available to those who qualify for Fix-up Fund loans. This includes funding for renewable energy. More information can be accessed here.

-Project ReEnergize, the residential energy efficiency rebate program, has limited remaining funds available. Homeowners can apply for rebates through eligible licensed contractors listed on the Project ReEnergize website. Rebates are available for qualifying energy efficiency improvements, including Energy Star window replacements, advanced attic air sealing, and attic and wall insulation.

-More information on stimulus-funded energy programs can be found at If you have questions, please contact or 800-657-3710.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lessons & Concepts for Advancing Community Wind

Are you or your community interested in wind energy, but are looking for concrete examples of successful projects from which to learn before you begin?

The Minnesota Project just released the report Lessons & Concepts for Advancing Community Wind, which seeks to advance the development of community-based wind projects in the United States. The report highlights keys to success and policy recommendations from three Midwestern wind project case studies. It can be a useful start for communities that are not only searching for information on the basic concept and structure of wind energy, but are also seeking strategies to address potential economic and political challenges.

Click here to download the report.

Click here to learn more about The Minnesota Project.