In our work at Conservation Minnesota, we’re seeing that many communities across Minnesota are excited about the potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency. It seems like every day I’m hearing of another business or city receiving a solar panel installation. These projects come together thanks to city leadership, community support, and innovation – and some of them get added support from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Seed grant.
Seed grants support innovative community clean energy projects by offering assistance for labor costs. They are granted to Minnesota renewable energy or energy efficiency projects, with an emphasis on projects that are highly visible so that they can “spark conversations about clean energy benefits.” The Seed grants have been around since 2006 and have funded 270 different projects across Minnesota.
In the area I work with, the East Metro, there are a few perfect examples of Seed projects. In Mahtomedi, the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative used funds for their Zepher Wind Project, the installation of a 10-kilowatt wind turbine that would also function as an educational resource for schools in the area. The turbine came to be from a grassroots effort. Grant funding, totaling $5,000, was used for system installation and electrical and trenching labor.
In Oakdale, Transfiguration Catholic Church and School sought Seed support for their Solar Learning Center. In 2010, the church installed a 40-kilowatt solar array on the roof of their school. The Seed project was to establish a Solar Learning Center (SLC) that would keep information on the solar panels that could be accessed in classrooms and throughout the church and school campus. The SLC provides information on the design and functionality of the solar panels, including a real-time display of electricity generation and the cumulative amount of power generated. Seed funding, totaling $2,000, enabled a teacher at the school to serve as a coordinator in helping to create the SLC and integrating it into the student curricula, as well as the broader parish community.
Finally, in Chisago, the Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce partnered with Eutectics for a Seed project to develop a Chisago Lakes Area Energy Hub. The seed grant money will be used to conduct outreach to the community to promote a financing hub for community-based public-private partnerships for building clean energy financing solutions. The hub will leverage public and private financing tools to create streamlined access to technical expertise for businesses, property owners and residents, and qualified contractors to implement clean energy projects. The Seed funds, totaling $4,000, supported outreach to all sectors of the community – from all businesses, to non-profits, to public buildings, and to single-family and multifamily residents.
CERTs have released their Request for Proposals for 2017 Seed projects. You can review the RFP and learn more about the application process, as well as past projects, by visiting the CERTs website. The deadline is October 20, 2017.
What is your clean energy idea? I welcome you to email me with a new idea or a question about how Seed grants could be used: email@example.com.