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Minnesota Department of Commerce awards $2.8 million for energy efficiency projects

March 01, 2012

For Immediate Release

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce today announced the names of 14 grant recipients for projects that will identify new technologies and strategies to maximize and measure energy savings in commercial, residential, and agricultural settings. The grants, totaling $2.8 million, are funded by the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program and administered by the Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources (DER).

“By closely evaluating and improving conservation techniques, and supporting the development of new energy efficiency technologies, we are making an important investment in Minnesota’s energy future,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The organizations chosen for participation in this year’s program are conducting cutting-edge research that will help Minnesota homes, businesses, and farms achieve tangible energy savings. We are excited to support these projects, and eager to monitor their progress as we work to achieve Minnesota’s nation-leading energy conservation goals.”

Grantees were chosen from among 43 applicants and include a range of for-profit and nonprofit groups, many of which have years of experience collaborating with energy utilities to help them achieve energy conservation goals. Projects chosen by DER range from field testing of specific technologies or program delivery methods to other broader topics, such as a review of Minnesota's deemed savings database. Grant recipients include the following organizations:

Center for Energy & Environment 
Advanced Rooftop HVAC Unit Controls Pilot 

CLASS 5, Inc. 
CLASS 5 Community 

Energy Center of Wisconsin, Inc. 
Field Test of Drainwater Heat Recovery in Commercial Buildings 

Energy Center of Wisconsin, Inc. 
Automatic Daylighting Control Commissioning in the Midwest 

Energy Management Solutions, Inc. 
Street Lighting 

Energy Management Solutions, Inc. 
Variable Refrigerant Technology in Cold Weather Climates 

EnergyScoreCards, Inc. 
Multi-Family Energy Benchmarking with EnergyScoreCards 

Franklin Energy Services, LLC 
Technical Review of the Minnesota Deemed Savings Database 

Franklin Energy Services, LLC 
The Energy Efficiency Potential in Minnesota’s Multi-family Sectors 

Franklin Energy Services, LLC 
Single Recommendation Strategy Study

Michaels Engineering, LLC
Convenience Store Energy Efficiency 

Michaels Engineering, LLC
Energy Savings from Demand Response and Load Management 

Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association 
Smart Grid Technologies 

The Minnesota Project, Inc. 
LEDs: Energy Savings and Replicability in Minnesota Livestock Facilities 

The CARD Grant Program was created to help achieve the state energy conservation goal as established by the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. More information about the CARD grant program, including a link to reports from previous CARD grant projects, is available here.

Examples of Grant Recipients

Project: Technical Review of the Minnesota Deemed Savings Database
Organization: Franklin Energy Services, LLC
Grant Award: $146,880

Deemed savings represent the energy and demand savings that are expected to be achieved on average for specific energy efficiency measures. Utilities use deemed savings to help estimate savings for measures included in their Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) portfolios. Minnesota's deemed savings database was established in 2007-08 and is undergoing its first review.

This CARD grant, awarded to Franklin Energy Services, LLC, will take a comprehensive look at cost assumptions, formulas, measure lifetimes, and peak demand savings within Minnesota's current deemed savings database and will update the inputs for each measure using the best available information from a variety of sources (eg., market research, technical resource manuals, program evaluations, and other recently completed deemed savings databases).

The inputs will include all relevant changes to energy codes and standards.  The project team is also researching the viability of assigning non-energy benefits such as labor or water savings to certain measures in order to provide a more accurate estimate of the true value of these measures. In addition, the project will recommend a process for continual improvement of the database. The deemed savings review will be completed by the end of August 2012.

Project: Convenience Store Energy Efficiency Pilot
Organization: Michaels Engineering, Inc.
Grant Award: $52,000

Convenience stores are a substantial user of energy within the small business category of utility customers and are one of the most energy intensive, even when compared to grocery stores.

This CARD project, awarded to Michaels Engineering, Inc. of La Crosse, Wis., will collaborate with municipal utilities to design and deliver a Retro-Commissioning (RCx) pilot program that targets this important sector. RCx typically focuses on optimizing the performance of existing equipment, lighting and controls rather than replacement of major equipment. As a result, the process identifies low-cost operational and maintenance improvements that bring the building functionally in line with design intent and current usage.

The goal of this project is to assist municipal utilities with achieving their energy saving targets, enhance their limited budgets and resources, and address a customer type that is difficult for them to impact. The pilot may be implemented with investor-owned utilities as well. A minimum of 50 convenience stores will be included in the pilot. The convenience store pilot will be completed by the end of August 2012.