The Clean Energy Resource Teams are a statewide partnership that was established in 2003 to provide clean energy assistance in Minnesota, with a mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. Melissa Birch, the Central MN CERTs Coordinator, shared more info about the program.
“To unpack that mission a little, when we say ‘clean energy,’ we are generally talking about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles. ‘Resources’ might be financial, or they might be technical assistance. Often, we are looking to connect people with each other in ways that can help community-based clean energy projects happen. Another key aspect of our work is to share stories of clean energy models implemented successfully in other communities. St. Cloud has been a leader in clean energy in recent years, a great example to share with other communities looking to harness clean energy technologies for energy savings.”
CERTs covers Minnesota. They have staff in each of the seven regions around the state. They also have a steering committee in each region that is composed of community members with a range of backgrounds and interests. These steering committees help guide their work and ensure they keep sight of local needs, priorities, and opportunities.
This program is a non-advocacy, non-sales partnership that is made up of four organizations: the University of Minnesota Extension, MN Department of Commerce, Southwest Regional Development Commission, and the Great Plains Institute. Because of this, they are able to draw from the knowledge of those organizations to provide accurate information to Minnesota’s communities. “Because of our regional staff and steering committees throughout the state, we can really get to know the communities we serve and understand how clean energy might fit into their development goals.”
“Our work is firmly rooted in community. Whether we are providing tools for reducing home energy costs or helping a local school ‘go solar,’ we do our work in partnership with diverse people, from local governments and utilities to businesses and community-based organizations.”
“Over the years we have partnered with and supported various organizations in the area. For instance, our staff provides assistance around the GreenStep Cities program, in which St. Cloud, Sartell, and Sauk Rapids all participate. We have also provided CERTs Seed Grant funding to projects in the St. Cloud area, most recently to home energy outreach and clean energy careers projects by two community-based organizations: UNIDOS and Community Grassroots Solutions.”
“When it comes to clean energy, St. Cloud has really been a model for other communities around the state! Improved energy efficiency in buildings and lighting is saving the City money, and the City is also producing energy using solar and a biofuel generator at its wastewater facility. As CERTs talks with communities around the state about their clean energy options, St. Cloud’s innovative work in this space provides an example of the kinds of savings that can be realized.”
The CERTs website (https://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/) is full of clean energy tools and guides, opportunities for funding, jobs, and events, and so many inspiring stories. Feel free to reach out to their staff (https://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/staff) if you have any questions on how to move forward with clean energy.