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Your source for news and updates related to Department of Commerce agencies and programs.

February 2019 Renewable News

2/6/2019 1:33:37 PM

Welcome to Renewable News, where you will find the latest news and information on a wide range of renewable energy topics.

Energy Leadership

Commerce announces Sullivan, Blauvelt as new deputy and assistant commissioners for Energy Division

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley announced on Feb. 1 new leadership for the department’s Division of Energy Resources, appointing Joe Sullivan as Deputy Commissioner and Katherine Blauvelt as Assistant Commissioner.

“I am pleased to announce this team to lead the Division of Energy Resources, particularly because both Joe and Katherine have strong backgrounds collaborating with multiple stakeholders to find common ground to move Minnesota forward with clean energy policies and a clean energy economy,” said Commissioner Kelley. “Minnesota has been known as a national leader in setting and achieving renewable energy goals. I believe we are at a place in our history where we must find solutions to combat climate change while sharing the economic benefits of the clean energy economy for everyone throughout our state.” Read more

Grant ends 8-year term as Energy Division leader, leaves legacy of clean energy achievements

Bill Grant ended 8 years as deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources on Feb. 1, leaving a legacy of clean energy action and consumer protection. Grant, under Governor Mark Dayton’s administration, developed and managed programs and policies in five units: Energy Planning and Advocacy, Energy Facility Permitting, State Energy Office, Energy Assistance Program, and Telecommunications. Read more.

Solar News

Xcel Energy launches 2019 Solar*Rewards Program, with new carve out to serve low-income customers

Xcel Energy opened its 2019 Solar*Rewards Program for residential and commercial customers on Jan. 28, 2019, with approximately $1 million of the $10 million program earmarked for its Income-Qualified Customers program. The low-income carve out is designed to offer solar options to Xcel’s income-qualified customers with limited resources and to those who serve low-income constituents. General residential qualifiers of Solar*Rewards will receive an annual production incentive of 7 cents per kWh for the first 10 years of the system; general commercial qualifiers will receive 6 cents per kWh for 10 years. Single-family qualifiers of the Solar*Rewards Income-Qualified Program will receive an upfront payment of $2 per watt and annual production incentives of 7 cents per kWh over the first 10 years. To qualify for the incentive as a single family, applicants must be qualified as a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) participant. Read more about Xcel’s and other utility incentive programs.

Conferences & Trainings

Green Schools Expo to highlight Zero Net Energy schools April 8-9 in Saint Paul

Minnesota schools looking to achieve Zero Net Energy in the coming years and interested school stakeholders will have an opportunity to learn more from Zero Net Energy school case studies and lectures, thanks to the national Green Schools Conference & Expo (GBCE) that will be held April 8-9 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in Saint Paul.

Among sessions focused on a variety of topics, the conference will offer two unique Zero Net Energy School educational sessions to help a wide variety of school staff, including facility coordinators, administrators, superintendents, and others, as well as school stakeholders to learn more.

The conference will highlight two sessions on Zero Net Energy schools:

  • Opening the Door: Energy Efficiency is Key to Whole District Eco-Efficiency, April 8 from 2:45-3:45 p.m. The zero energy success of three school districts will be shared to help attendees understand the benefits of sustainability and net zero energy by employing best practices. Attendees will learn from partners of the DOE’s Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program and the Better Buildings Challenge K-12 and will learn how to use the DOE’s energy benchmarking tools and resources as a basis for project decision in K-12 schools.
  • Net-Zero Energy Schools in the Real World—Bridging the Gap between Predictions and Performance, April 9, 4:30-5:30 p.m.  Through a pair of case studies with net zero energy goals, this session will identify and evaluate design strategies that can contribute to a successful low energy or net zero building. It will illustrate how energy models can be used to predict a building’s energy performance, and where energy model predictions may fall short.

For more on these two sessions and the overall conference, visit The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Division of Energy Resources is a partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program

Free Renewable Energy Workshop for 4th-12th grade educators

A Renewable Energy Workshop to explore ways to bring the power of wind and solar into the classroom will be held Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Farnsworth Aerospace at 1000 Walsh St. in Saint Paul. This workshop will help prepare educators to participate in the Minnesota Renewable Energy Challenge to be held on Saturday, April 13th, 2019 in Saint Paul. Check out this video or the challenge website for more information about the KidWind Challenge. Read more to register and for more information.

Energy Design Conference & Expo is Feb. 26-27 in Duluth

The 29th annual Energy Design Conference & Expo will be held Feb. 26-27 in Duluth to provide the latest in energy-efficient building and technologies, renewable energy, best practices, and responsible design. The conference, hosted by Minnesota Power, will feature more than 40 sessions from some of the best educators in the energy field and provides participants with opportunities to connect with peers and other energy-conscious attendees. To register and for details, read more

GreenStep Cities workshop: Shared Mobility & Electric Vehicles, March 6

Minnesota GreenStep Cities on March 6 at 9 a.m. will host “Shared Mobility & Electric Vehicles: What We’ve Learned,” a workshop dedicated to shared mobility (think bike share programs), electric vehicles, and autonomous vehicles. City and tribal government staff, elected officials, and appointed officials are invited to attend this free workshop to learn more about this local government sustainability topic. Attend in person at the League of Minnesota Cities building in St. Paul or attend remotely via GoTo Meeting. Learn more.

MnSEIA announces 2019 Gateway to Solar Conference dates: Oct. 21-22

Save the date! Oct. 21-22 are the dates for the 2019 Gateway to Solar Conference, the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) has announced. The annual conference is Minnesota’s largest industry-led solar trade group conference and will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. Read more.

Wind News

Google considers data center powered by wind energy in Becker, Minnesota

Google is looking to build a $600 million data center in central Minnesota that would be powered by two wind farms, according to a report by the Associated Press. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy disclosed the data center project on Jan. 17 in a regulatory filing. The Google facility proposed in Becker would mark one of the largest private construction projects in recent state history and create about 50 full-time tech jobs. Read more.

Changing energy landscape in western Minnesota: Wind turbines go up as work to dismantle coal plant starts

Two telling examples of Minnesota's changing energy landscape could be seen in the Granite Falls area this autumn, according to a report in West Central Tribune. Crews working for Xcel Energy removed the exterior coal loading system at the shuttered Minnesota Valley electric generation plant on the edge of Granite Falls. The former coal-fired plant has not produced electricity since 2004. It is scheduled to be dismantled in 2023, according to Randy Fordice, senior media representative with Xcel Energy. At the very same time, crews for Fagen Inc., of Granite Falls, erected 18 wind turbines on a 6,150-acre footprint immediately north of the community near the Minnesota River Valley bluff. The Palmer's Creek Wind Farm was completed and officially became commercial on Dec. 30. Read more.

Clean Energy News

Xcel Energy plans to expand Renewable*Connect Program

Xcel Energy plans to more than triple the size of its “Renewable*Connect,” a program that allows its customers to have their energy consumption credited to renewable sources. The expansion of "Renewable Connect" is aimed partly at corporations and governments that want specifically earmarked renewable power for their own green-energy programs, according to a Star Tribune report. Xcel would add more wind and solar capacity—possibly both a new wind and a new solar farm—to power the expansion of Renewable Connect, according to a company filing in early January 2019 with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Xcel launched Renewable Connect in 2017 as a pilot program, and it currently serves more than 3,000 residential customers. It also serves 150 commercial and industrial clients, which account for 87 percent of the program's power consumption. Read more.


Renewable News is a newsletter that covers a range of renewable energy topics, including innovative initiatives in our state, technological advancements, financial incentives, trainings, and events. If you would like to change preferences for the newsletters you are currently subscribed to or if you want to unsubscribe, please use the links at the bottom of this page.

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