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Research 

 

Lasting progress comes from data-informed responses to complex challenges. CEE investigates cost-effective measures that support energy efficiency and public health. From homes to high-rises, our comprehensive field research examines the savings and performance characteristics of building systems and equipment.

 
 

HIGHLIGHTS: Technical Research

» In 2018, CEE led or contributed to nine projects funded by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which is supporting research to advance the energy efficiency field and help utilities bring energy savings to consumers. Through these projects, CEE partners with like-minded organizations to find practical energy solutions for homes, businesses, and communities. Learn More

» The Division of Energy Resources released Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study, led by CEE (in collaboration with Optimal Energy and Seventhwave) and funded through Minnesota's Conservation Applied Research and Development grant. Researchers sought to inform future utility program strategies related to the state's Conservation Improvement Program, and found that utilities can continue to meet or exceed energy-saving goals over the next decade. Learn More

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HIGHLIGHTS: Energy Grid Research

»  In April CEE hosted a forum to explore the present and future of strategic electrification in Minnesota. More than 150 registrants represented state government, utility companies, and community stakeholders. Speakers and attendees wrestled with the questions, challenges, and opportunities of electrification through presentations, discussions, and post-event networking. Learn More

»  CEE co-released a study analyzing Minnesota’s goal to produce 10 percent of its electricity via solar generation by 2030. The report found that Minnesota can achieve its solar goal by 2025, at costs comparable to natural gas generation. Further, the report found that expected cost decreases in solar, wind, and storage will enable Minnesota to achieve 70 percent solar and wind by 2050 at comparable costs. Learn More

 

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Lending

 

CEE’s Lending Center offers financing to residential property owners and businesses for energy-related improvements, as well as general home improvement loans. In addition to loans funded by CEE’s own capital, the Lending Center provides services for partnering cities, counties, utilities, and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s Fix Up Loan Program. CEE has provided more than $200 million in loans since the early 1980s.

 
 

HIGHLIGHTS

»  In 2018, CEE’s Lending team fielded 1,630 applications for loans and closed 762 loans, or about 47 percent. Over the course of the year, CEE provided over $10.5 million in financing to support home and business energy efficiency upgrades, solar installs, and other home improvements. Learn More

»  CEE currently administers loan programs in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; both Hennepin and Ramsey counties; 16 individual cities; CenterPoint Energy, Xcel Energy, and Great River Energy; and nearly 30 neighborhoods. In March 2018, CEE was identified as a top Minnesota Housing Fix Up lender. Learn More

»  In 2018, CEE financed 45 solar projects with over $1.1 million in lending. Residential solar loans accounted for about $806,000 (31 projects) in financing, up from just $155,000 (5 projects) in 2014. Similarly, commercial solar loans went from financing one project in 2014 to financing 14 projects in 2018. Thanks to CEE’s solar loans, kilowatts installed per year have tripled over the same period. Learn more

 
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Programs

Program innovation depends on extensive experience and constant exploration. Using the latest behavioral research and a “one-stop” approach, CEE’s programs address barriers that many homeowners and businesses face when considering energy improvements. By reducing these barriers through assessments, tracking, and education, we’ve become experts in helping to cut energy use at home and at work.

 
 
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HIGHLIGHTS: Residential Programs

» Home Energy Squad pairs on-the-spot installations with an energy assessment for greater home comfort and savings. In each visit, staff install energy upgrades like LED bulbs, water savers, and smart thermostats. We partner with 26 local cities and neighborhoods (and counting) to help cut the cost of visits for residents. In 2018, we visited 5,688 homes and helped save about 5.5 gigawatt hours and 28,207 decatherms in total energy. Learn More

» Nearly 1,000 Minnesota homes worked with CEE’s free Energy Advisor service to complete bigger efficiency improvements and take advantage of rebates. CEE delivers this program for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. Learn More

HIGHLIGHTS: Commercial Programs

»  One-Stop Efficiency Shop® offers a full-service rebate program for small businesses, with a focus on lighting and rooftop unit improvements. One-Stop removes barriers to energy efficiency such as limited financial resources, lack of access to high-quality contractors, and time constraints. In 2018, One-Stop completed 2,699 projects, conserving 15.5 megawatts and 73 gigawatt hours of energy, as well as $8.9 million in rebates and $6.8 million in annual savings for local businesses. Learn More

»  CEE also implements the Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency program on behalf of Xcel Energy, which helps businesses identify what types of improvements save energy and money and offers rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades. The program launched in 2018 and serves small business customers throughout Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory. Learn More

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HIGHLIGHTS: Community Programs

»  The City of Minneapolis looks to CEE for technical and outreach expertise for the energy benchmarking ordinance adopted in 2013. According to a City report released in 2018, energy and water use in large buildings trended downward after the city council passed the ordinance, which required certain building owners to record and submit consumption data. Adjusted for weather, consistently benchmarked large buildings used 1.7 percent less energy per square foot in 2016 compared to 2014; the same buildings reduced their water consumption by 5.9 percent. Learn more

»  Regional Residential Energy Programs connect homeowners with energy-saving resources and provide information about efficiency methods through partnerships with local utilities, including Austin Public Utilities, Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services, Minnesota Energy Resources, Owatonna Public Utilities, and Rochester Public Utilities. Among its 2018 accomplishments, the program held four Neighborhood Energy Challenge workshops in Rochester and two webinar “Conserve & Save” workshop in Austin — all told, more than 150 households participated. Learn More

 
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Policy

CEE advances effective clean energy policies for a healthy, low-carbon economy. Driven by a longstanding focus on community, consumer protection, and the environment. Operating at local, state, and national levels, CEE works across sectors and interests to achieve broad support for clean energy policies.

 
 
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HIGHLIGHTS

»  CEE and Great Plains Institute co-coordinate Minnesota’s e21 Initiative,  which unites utilities, consumer advocates, regulators, and environmental advocates to develop a 21st century energy system that better aligns a financially viable utility business model with increasing customer expectations and evolving policy goals. Learn More

»  Since 2015, CEE has guided dozens of visits to cities across Minnesota to highlight the value of the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) with site-specific success stories. In early 2019, CEE co-launched a MNCIP.org with video testimonials from electrical contractors and local businesses to further demystify CIP’s role as a job creator and energy saver statewide. Learn More