Small Wind Turbine Program Aimed at Furthering Small Wind Development in MN

In 2011, with a grant from the USDA, Windustry and the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force launched a Small Wind Bulk Buy Program to help rural enterprises take advantage of the state's wind resources and net-metering laws.

The program was supported by a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, and other funders to support small wind energy, and the consequent economic development in the region. It provided Small Wind 101 training sessions, as well as technical and logistical support, including wind resource evaluation, site selection, economic evaluation, turbine selection, and support with permitting. The program focused on machines ranging in size from 2.4 kW to just under 40kW.

As of May, 2012, the funds from the USDA ran out and the application for renewal was declined. However, the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force still supports the program in a limited fashion; and the resources that were developed, in particular the Small Wind Guide and the Small Wind Financial Calculator, continue to be available below.



This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have considered wind power to find out if it really makes sense for them. People will get an honest evaluation, and for those who want to move forward, the path will be made as smooth as possible.

—Rich Huelskamp, Renewable Energy consultant, The Sun's Warmth

Windustry Program Analyst Dan Turner: "Region Nine has learned a great deal about making this program work efficiently. Those in the region who can take advantage of it will be well served.

It makes small wind turbines more attractive as investments both to offset electric bills and, in some cases, to generate revenue. Industry growth in the area engages a local workforce trained to install and maintain small wind turbines, stimulates supply chain business development, and keeps energy dollars local to maintain and build the rural economy."


Download Small Wind Guide

Download the Small Wind Guide for a basic overview about small wind electric systems to help you decide if wind energy is right for you.

Download the Small Wind Financial Calculator for Minnesota Net Metering Situations, requires Microsoft Excel or compatible software.


CERTs 2011 Clean Energy Convergence - Learn, Connect, ACT

The CERTs 2011 Clean Energy Convergence will unite Minnesotans who are blazing the paths to a clean energy future by working on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in their communities. You can learn, connect, and act with CERTs and 600 engaged community members on February 2-3, 2011 in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.

CERTs 2011 Clean Energy Convergence

CERTs 2011 is a venue for both broad and in-depth learning opportunities, connecting and networking with engaged community members, and taking action on energy efficiency and clean energy projects. The event will begin with In-Depth Workshops and an Evening Reception on February 2nd, and continue with a Daylong Conference on the 3rd. 

Learn: At CERTs 2011 you will learn from experts and community members alike on what it takes to get projects done. Find out how individuals and communities are partnering, planning, funding, and implementing projects. Hear success stories and models that demonstrate how to become more energy efficient and harness clean energy while strengthening local economies and protecting the environment. 

Connect: CERTs 2011 will provide networking opportunities for you to connect with community leaders, energy experts, local government staff, teachers and students, utility representatives, business owners, homeowners, farmers, and more. All have the same goals: saving energy, saving money, creating jobs, and powering our future renewably. 

Act: Whether you're looking to save energy in your home, business, school, or local government; passionate about installing a renewable energy system like solar, wind, or biomass; interested in educating your community about energy issues; or looking for good training opportunities in Minnesota, CERTs 2011 has what you're looking for.

Learn more, see the full agenda, and register for CERTs 2011 at http://2011.MNCERTs.org 

General Wesley Clark joins all-star roster for Midwest Wind Conference

General Wesley Clark
General Wesley Clark

Special Guest General Wesley Clark joins an all-star roster of wind luminaries for the Community Wind across America conference for the Midwest Region on November 15-16 in St. Paul, Minnesota. General Clark opens Monday evening's reception (5:30 pm), the four star Army general has called for a Renewable Energy Standard for the country and extending tax credits for renewables, much the way the government encourages oil and gas development.

Program speakers for the two-day event include Community Wind pioneer Dan Juhl and Small Wind guru Mick Sagrillo. Economics professor Arne Kildegaard, will speak to the regional economic impact of wind development with local ownership and Craig Lewis, of the FIT Coalition, will present on the benefits of Feed-In Tariffs.

See the full two-day Agenda for the Community and Small Wind Energy event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel St. Paul, Minnesota on November 15-16. Discounted registration fees of $125 are available through November 11, so don't delay. 

Get more information about the Community Wind across America conference series.

CERTs Seed Grants in Minnesota

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) project has awarded CERTs seed grants of up to $11,000 to help projects garner further funding and bring communities together in identifying and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs received 122 proposals, of which 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,” said 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. 

Four of the CERTS seed grants benefited Community Wind and small wind projects in Minnesota:

Damstrom Farm: Wind Energy Project
Alexandria, MN - Craig Damstrom is building a 3 MW community wind project outside of Alexandria, MN. Energy generated will power the Damstrom Farm's irrigation needs and will supply energy for use by the local community. After turbine installation, all wells and irrigators will be run by green power, with excess energy sold to the utility to power other local farmers irrigation needs, homes and businesses. The project will increase local knowledge of the benefits of wind energy, create jobs for local contractors working on the project, and offer green energy to co-op area customers. (Clean Energy; $3,750)

Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative: Zephyr Wind Project
Mahtomedi, MN - The Zephyr Wind Project seeks to bring renewable energy, future-focused educational experiences and a vision for a more sustainable community to the Mahtomedi area through the installation of a 10kW wind turbine. The project is a grassroots effort led by the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative, a volunteer citizen group that has been working together since 2006 to encourage enduring community commitment to sustainability. This will be MAGI's first renewable energy project and will pave the way for other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects aimed at bringing our community together around the common theme of reducing our carbon footprint and building a more sustainable community. The seed grant funding will be used for system installation and electrical and trenching labor, paired with fundraising efforts. (Clean Energy, Education & Research; $5,000)

Mesabi Range Community & Technical College: Wind Energy Technology Turbine
Eveleth, MN - The Mesabi Range Community and Technical College has secured funding for a Morphic ST-20 wind turbine that will provide students in the Wind Energy Technology and Electrical Industrial Automation Technology programs with hands-on training. The turbine will also provide continuing education opportunities for incumbent workers in wind power generation industries, as well community members interested in wind energy. (Clean Energy & Education; $2,500)

Trulson Dental Clinic with HG Wind Power, Inc.: 10 KW Roof-Mounted Wind Turbine
Stewartville, MN - The Trulson Dental Clinic will install a virtually silent, vibration-free wind turbine to generate clean energy for the building. This pilot project is the first of its kind in Stewartville, with the hopes that the magnetically-levitated, vertical-axis wind turbine will serve as a model to test the efficacy of capturing wind energy from a rooftop installation. (Clean Energy; $5,000)

A list of all of the seed grant recipients by region can be found on the CERTs website at www.CleanEnergyResourceTeams.org.

Emerging Renewable Energy Industries in MN RFP

The Office of Energy Security (OES) at the Minnesota Department of Commerce requests proposals for emerging renewable energy industries' projects. Eligible organizations are those that are engaged or will engage in the manufacture of renewable energy systems or fuels, energy storage systems, geothermal energy systems for heating and cooling, or the manufacture of components for such systems in the State of Minnesota.

Proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. CST, December 18, 2009. For more information, visit the OES web site.

Minnesota Transmisson Study Suggests Grid Upgrades for Renewable Energy

A new study released by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security shows that the state's power grid could accomodate 600 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity by making upgrades to electric transmission systems. A previous study had shown that another 600 MW could be added to the existing tranmission grid without impacting it's performance.

"Dispersed Renewable Generation Transmission Study Phase II" completes a two-part study chartered by the Minnesota legislature as part of the Minnesota NextGen Energy Act passed in 2007. The act calls for 25 percent of the total energy used in the state to be derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2025. In order to meet that goal, dispersed generation of the grid would allow many distributed power generators, such as wind farms, to add significant energy capacity to the system. Together, the combined studies created complex computer models designed to add 1200 MW of dispersed capacity by the year 2013.

Phase I, completed in June 2008, identified locations in the state transmission grid where a total of 600 MW of renewable energy projects could be developed with little or no changes required to the existing grid infrastructure. Although the study noted that dispersed generation can have impacts on the electric grid, it concluded that the majority of the 600 MW could be sited without disruptions at locations in southern Minnesota. In fact, in 2008 the state added 454 MW of commercial wind power with the vast majority sited in southwestern Minnesota.

Proposed DRG Phase II Sites

Phase II of the study sought an additional 600 MW and found that there were limited locations in the state that could accommodate 10-40 MW generation projects without incurring some amount of transmission investment. So, the study team focused on sites that could potentially accommodate generation with only minor transmission investments, not the construction of new high-voltage transmission routes. The total cost of the transmission upgrades were estimated to be $121 million. In comparsion, the CapX 2020 project for constructing three new high-voltage transmission lines across the state is estimated to cost $1.7 billion.

As a result of the studies, the Minnesota Office of Energy Security concluded that achieving the renewable energy goal calls for a dual strategy of:

  • Using our existing transmission infrastructure more efficiently, through increased energy conservation and efficiency, demand response, emerging efficiency technologies and dispersed renewable generation where it can be interconnected reliably, and
  • Significantly increasing high-voltage transmission capacity in the state.

The studies and explanatory recorded webinars are available from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security on the link below.

Tom Wind (Wind Utility Consulting) acting as a consultant to Windustry served as a member of the Technical Review Committee for both studies.

Seed Grants Available for Community Wind Projects in Minnesota

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is providing financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions (Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central).

All applications are due no later than 4:30pm, November 2nd, 2009.

The primary objectives of this funding project are to:

  1. Encourage the implementation of community‐based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and
  2. Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES).

Visit the CERTs website to learn more about this opportunity and to download the application materials. You can also read more about previous projects that were successful in receiving these funds.

Minnesota Transmission Owners Notice of Public Meetings

Minnesota electric utilities with transmission lines in the state are required by law to conduct transmission planning and identify reasonably foreseeable inadequacies in the electric transmission system.  This process is particularly important for local government officials, but the general public is also encouraged to participate, and Community Wind advocates may want to pay particular attention as access to adequate transmission is often a key element for the success of a project.

In order to inform the public of the planning process and to solicit input from the public on possible inadequacies and activities that may affect demand for electricity, a series of webcasts will be held in mid-September.  Each webcast relaties to a discrete portion of the state.  Complete details for dates, times and access can be found in the attachments to this article.  

The Public Utilities Commission requires a report on this planning process every two years.  This is a reporting year, with the report being due November 1.  

Municipal Wind Power in Minnesota

AUGUST 2009, MN - The city of Chaska, Minnesota, will soon have an 80-foot-tall wind turbine generating clean, renewable electricity for local residents and businesses. The Pioneer Ridge Wind Turbine is just one of the eleven turbines that will be installed through the Hometown WindPower program created by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). After holding an open house and a neighborhood meeting to gather citizen input, the Pioneer Ridge Middle School site was chosen after a variety of factors were considered including visibility, proximity to existing power sources, educational value, and impact to neighbors. Construction could begin as soon as September, 2009.

"Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used."
—Derick Dahlen, Avant Energy

The Hometown WindPower program began in 2006, when MMPA began an ambitious program to locate wind turbines for their 11 member communities across the state of Minnesota. The Agency is owned by its member cities and governed by a board of directors with representatives from each community working together to provide competitively priced, reliable and sustainable energy to their local customers. Now, five of the member communities, Chaska, Anoka, Buffalo, North Saint Paul, and Shakopee, have entered the planning stage for their wind power projects this year.

The program was designed by Avant Energy, a Minneapolis firm that provides services to municipal utilities and public power agencies. "Wind power is most efficient when it can be used at the point of generation, rather than being transmitted many miles away," says Avant Energy president Derick Dahlen. "Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used, and it will happen using a clean, endlessly renewable source of power."

A turbine in Anoka, recently approved by the city council with a 4-1 vote, will be located near the Anoka High School with construction slated to begin this fall. Buffalo has selected a site at Buffalo High School near the Buffalo water tower. North St. Paul has selected a site by a public works garage. The 165-kilowatt wind turbines with 80-foot towers and 35-foot blades are refurbished machines from California purchased for $300,000 each. Hometown WindPower will help MMPA meet its Minnesota state requirement to achieve a renewable energy standard (RES) of 25 percent by 2025.

Willmar Municipal Utilities wind turbine
Willmar Municipal Utilities
wind turbine

Municipal wind power projects are developed by small political subdivisions of cities and townships, rural electrification cooperatives, and other municipal entities or municipally owned corporations that provide electric transmission, distribution or generation services. Advantages of municipal wind power projects include the ability of a local government body to manage the regulatory process and to arrange for public meetings during the planning process along with the use of public lands for siting.

While these projects are much smaller than commercial wind farms with megawatt-scale tubines, they demonstrate how local government and public utilities can provide their own clean energy from sustainable resources. Hometown WindPower is a prime example of how Community Wind is being used in small communities to help keep energy costs stable by creating a long-term fixed price for the power, providing a hedge against rising fuel costs, such as coal and natural gas.

Other Minnesota municipalities are using wind power for these benefits as well.

Willmar Municipal Utilities recently completed construction of two wind turbines that will be used to power about 3% of the city's electric needs. These 262-foot, 2-MW DeWind wind turbines were manufactured in Round Rock, Texas, with blades made in Germany, and the steel tower sections built in Nebraska. The city of Willmar is using bonding to spread out the cost over a 10- to 15-year period. Over the 20-year life of the turbines, the projected cost for each kilowatthour of electricity produced is less than 5 cents.

Capture the Wind Turbines in North Moorhead
Capture the Wind Turbines
in North Moorhead

Moorhead Public Service (MPS) was a pioneer in 1999 erecting a .75-MW wind turbine, followed by a second turbine in 2001. MPS instituted a Capture the Wind program allowing residents and local businesses to help support the municipal wind project by paying additional fees of no more than a half-penny per kWh. This allows customers the opportunity to make a positive environmental choice to support clean, renewable energy by paying a little extra without impacting other customers who do not choose to support the project. The program was so popular that the subscription targets for both turbines were achieved within their first months of being offered, and customers went on waiting lists to join the program with extended offerings.

Loans for Community-Based Wind Projects in Northeastern Minnesota

2009: Duluth, MN - The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) and the Northland Foundation have partnered to provide a revolving loan fund that will provide early-stage project development and feasibility analysis for community-based wind energy projects. The revolving loan fund will be available in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

The revolving loan fund is part of the Rural Energy Development Initiative (REDI), a state-wide program addressing community-based wind energy development. REDI loan financing is limited to early stage project development and feasibility analysis for wind energy electric generation projects that intend to sell the electricity to an electric utility. Maximum loan size is $25,000 for any one project and/or borrower. ARDC functions as the regional REDI organizer for northeast Minnesota. The Northland Foundation is the acting loan partner for the revolving loan fund. 

For more information regarding the revolving loan fund and/or the application for the loan fund, please see the website or contact Bonnie Hundrieser (ARDC) at 218-529-7527 or bhundrieser@ardc.org


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