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Clean Energy Resource Teams award 55 seed grants for innovative projects across Minnesota

Thu, Jan 14th, 2010
Posted in State of Minnesota

JANUARY 13, STATEWIDE, MN - The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are kicking off 2010 by announcing the projects awarded seed grants in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions. These catalyzing grants of up to $11,000 will help projects garner further funding and bring communities together in identifying and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs received 122 proposals requesting a total of $829,224; of these, 55 proposals were funded for a total granting amount of $280,000.

"CERTs provides these seed grants with two primary objectives in mind: to encourage implementation of community-based clean energy projects across the state, and to provide an educational forum for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, community and ecological benefits," says Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Statewide Coordinator.

Project funding will put Minnesotans to work by supporting technical assistance labor services, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor, for projects across the state in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central. A list of all of the seed grant recipients by region can be found on the CERTs website at www.CleanEnergyResourceTeams.org.

This is the fourth round of grant funding from CERTs-they awarded seed grants to Minnesota projects in 2006, 2007, and 2008, funding over 80 projects during that time, and providing non-financial assistance to many more. For the current round of funding, each of the seven regions had a $40,000 pool of grant money to award. Each Regional Team's Steering Committee made its own seed grant selections, and the funding levels vary by region. This is the first year that grant awards have been made in the Metro Region. Projects approved for funding will be completed by December 31st, 2010.

The funded projects are in the areas of energy efficiency, clean energy, education and research. Funding for these projects is provided through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security. Below are selected highlights of funded projects across the state.

Examples of energy efficiency projects receiving funding include the development of energy efficiency orientation curriculum for low-income, first-time homebuyers in Minnesota; the energy efficient rehabilitation of five foreclosed homes in Northfield, MN; Home Energy Squad outreach and training in the Hmong community in St. Paul, MN; and comprehensive energy efficiency improvements to the Clear Waters Life Center in Gonvick, MN.

Funded clean energy projects range from a solar thermal heating system for the Regional Fitness Center pool in Morris, MN to renewable heating for the Little Earth of United Tribes Urban Farm Center greenhouses in Minneapolis, MN; and from a 3MW wind energy project to power irrigation on the Damstrom Farm in Alexandria, MN to methane collection at the county landfill for renewably-heated greenhouses in Winona, MN.

Many seed grant recipients are taking a school or community education focus, including installation of a 10kW solar PV system at Chisago Lakes Middle School with training opportunities for local electricians in Lindstrom, MN; a student-led energy efficiency canvassing campaign and career exploration in Duluth, MN; construction of a renewably-heated greenhouse at the School of Art and Technology in Northfield, MN; and renewable biodiesel production for heating buildings at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer, MN.

CERTs also funded several research projects, among them a sustainable campus development plan for Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake, MN; solar energy feasibility studies for local government buildings in Northwest, MN; an engineering and economic analysis for a municipal combined heat and power (CHP) system in Ely, MN; and a feasibility study for converting waste paper into cellulosic ethanol at Prairieland Solid Waste in Martin County, MN.

A complete list of funded projects by region can be found on the CERTs website at www.CleanEnergyResourceTeams.org.

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) program, started in 2003, is made up of community members across Minnesota who share a bold vision for Minnesota's energy future: to foster strong communities, to create local jobs, and to develop clean and reliable energy from clean sources. CERTs connects people with the technical resources needed to identify and implement community-scale energy efficiency and clean energy projects. CERTs is a partnership of the University of Minnesota's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Green Institute, Southwest Regional Development Commission, The Minnesota Project, and the Office of Energy Security, MN Department of Commerce.

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