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