Lake Street Energy Challenge Resident Highlight: Brooke Dierkhising and Jason Holtz

 “Do it over time,” Dierkhising advised. Making energy efficiency improvements is not cheap, she said, but improving over time makes it easier.

Tucked away in the Longfellow neighborhood, Jason Holtz and Brooke Dierkhising’s home reflects a deep commitment to energy efficiency. Their two-story home includes rooftop solar panels, a cozy wood-burning stove, and many other energy efficient and sustainable finishes.

“When we moved into our home, we wanted to make it our own,” Dierkhising said. “So we started making little improvements.” They purchased their home when it was in foreclosure, and had to replace almost everything, including the furnace—now a very energy efficient, smaller model. They insulated the whole home, part of their strategy to begin with improvements “where we would pay the least with the biggest [energy savings] impact.”

Learn about home energy efficiency and more about Brooke and Jason here!


Lake Street Energy Challenge Partner Profile: Sean Gosiewski


Great residential energy sustainability is far from impossible, according to Sean Gosiewski. A dedicated and active member of the alternative energy community in the Twin Cities, Sean has over 30 years of energy and sustainability work experience, tracing back  to 1983 when he co-founded the Minnesota Coalition of Bicyclists. Sean currently runs the Alliance for Sustainability, an organization collaborating with the Lake Street Energy Challenge (LSEC) to link citizens, congregations, and neighborhood organizations to community solar opportunities. “The Alliance for Sustainability has a strong history of empowering neighborhoods around sustainability,” Sean said. “And we are excited to continue this work with the Lake Street Energy Challenge.”

Reducing Emissions through Community Solar

In response to the City of Minneapolis’ and the State of Minnesota’s climate goals, Sean explored alternative routes to meet those objectives. “Minnesota has a goal of 10% solar, and Minneapolis has a goal of 80% emissions reduction by 2050,” Sean explained. “Community solar gardens let us rapidly and easily achieve this goal.” The prerequisites for residents interested in committing to community solar are (1) an Xcel Energy bill, and (2) willingness to sign a multi-year contract with a solar developer. Residents lease panels in a large “garden” of panels located off-site from their home.

The LSEC has partnered with the Alliance for Sustainability to inform Lake Street neighborhoods about community solar. As a result, almost 200 households in the Lake Street corridor have signed up to participate in a community solar garden.

There are many community solar garden developers, and residents should carefully consider developer contracts before signing up for a garden. Sean recommended that residents pay close attention to the following: the escalator that the contract offers; the terms of ending the contract; whether the contract is transferable; and whether any down payments or fees are required. 

Achieving the City's Climate Goals

“I am excited about the Lake Street Energy Challenge because neighborhoods can make huge differences in helping to achieve the City’s climate goals,” Sean commented. Sean has worked with neighborhood organizations throughout his career and knows that small groups of people can achieve large results. “It can be hard to get people involved in energy efficiency at the city-level,” Sean said. “It’s so invisible—it’s hard.” Easy and exciting programs like community solar that require residents to sign up for an existing program help lower some of these barriers to awareness and involvement.  

Educating yourself on community solar basics and looking over the fine-print of potential contracts is a key aspect to ensuring your successful participation in a garden. Once you do, you will be saving money and helping make significant strides in achieving city-wide environmental goals. The LSEC website has information to help you begin your community solar garden research and planning. You can also find energy usage snapshots for Lake Street neighborhoods produced using Xcel Energy consumption data.

Posted on June 1, 2016 .

Minneapolis Energy Update June 2016

Clean Energy Partnership Board Meeting, Friday, June 3 
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
401 Nicollet Mall
(Must bring an ID to get a visitors pass)

Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership (CEP)
Through the Clean Energy Partnership, and the City is working on an engagement pilot to target 1-3 communities. A proposed process is in development through a subcommittee of the Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC).  Xcel Energy is part of the planning team and working with the City of Minneapolis and CenterPoint Energy to prepare a joint grant proposal to the Department of Energy. The Planning Team will develop the RFP for the pilot communities this summer, with the intent to have one or more implementers in place by late fall.

City Street Construction

City engineering design and installation crews are busy working on Nicollet Mall where 1.2 miles of reconstruction is taking place, including major electrical infrastructure that powers approximately 85 % of Minneapolis and surrounding areas. Due to the complexity of the work and depth of the construction project, we relocated nearly 100 % of the energy infrastructure. This summer, we are collaborating with other energy providers—sewer and water, cable, and others—to build a state-of-the-art infrastructure designed for the long term.

Energy Conservation

The City has many energy conservation projects planned in the next couple of years including LED street lighting and indoor lighting upgrades, rooftop air conditioning equipment replacements, chiller upgrades and other mechanical efficiencies. Xcel Energy is partnering with the City on other building construction projects and assisting with identifying energy efficiencies through our Energy Design Assistance and rebates that will lower the overall project costs. 

Posted on June 1, 2016 .