Letter from the President

Chris_D_150.jpgIn 2017 CEE fortified a powerful link when we merged with the Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC), our longstanding clean energy partner across the river. Together our efforts are strengthened by decades of cooperation and aligned vision — distinctive starting points for an even brighter future. 

Now united as CEE in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, our teams continue to lead innovations in technical research, program delivery, policy development, and clean energy financing. And that’s just the beginning.

Enriched by new members from the former NEC, our board of directors is guiding an exploration into CEE’s mission and values. We’ve established a program development team to inform how we sustain and support our efforts going forward. Our staff are digging deep into CEE’s strategic plan to connect the dots between our organizational culture and operations, business plan, and external relationships. And thanks to the merger, our residential programs are already benefiting from fresh perspectives for greater impact.

As CEE continues to grow as a mission-driven clean energy leader, we’re grateful for all the community stakeholders and field collaborators who help power our progress toward pragmatic energy solutions, increased savings, and a lower-carbon economy with benefits for all.



Chris Duffrin, President


Photo_Research200.jpgIdentify cost-effective efficiency measures for utilities and policies to advance public health

CEE’s research team conducts technology and market assessments to identify tomorrow’s best clean energy strategies. For more than three decades, CEE’s researchers have explored cost-effective clean energy solutions relating to building science, mechanical system performance, and program design. From homes to high-rises, our data-driven field research assesses savings and performance characteristics of specific energy approaches including building envelopes, air leakage, HVAC design and retrofits, indoor air quality, and energy feedback and behavior. 

Capturing Minnesota’s efficiency potential

This year CEE kicked off a new type of research project — a statewide efficiency potential study to clarify Minnesota’s potential for demand-side efficiency. With funding from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, the project team is using in-depth research and stakeholder collaboration to investigate and quantify the savings potential of utility conservation improvement program efforts. Results will inform the Division of Energy Resources and utilities of the market sectors, geographic areas, and specific energy-saving measures that can be targeted to achieve cost-effective energy efficiency statewide.

Commercial Programs

Photo_CommPrograms200.jpgEmploy real-time feedback and analysis to identify energy waste and optimize operations

CEE’s commercial programs are designed to address the energy needs of Minnesota businesses and multifamily building owners. The One-Stop Efficiency Shop® is a full-service energy efficiency program sponsored by Xcel Energy to alleviate small businesses’ biggest barriers when shifting to better lighting. The Multifamily Energy Savings Program is sponsored by Minnesota Energy Resources and serves low-income housing, senior housing, assisted living, on-campus college housing, condominiums, and apartments. And Energy Intelligence for Industry helps clients discover how and when they use energy by providing real-time, web-based feedback of energy usage.

New opportunities with HVAC efficiency

In 2016, CEE added rooftop unit services to the One-Stop program. A typical small business annually spends $6,000 to $25,000 on energy, and HVAC operation accounts for a significant portion of that cost. HVAC improvements offer new low-hanging fruit to help small businesses save money on utility bills, and tapping into new energy savings in HVAC can help Minnesota stay on track to meet its efficiency goals.


Residential Programs

Discover how your house stacks up against energy performance standards

Combining the latest research with a “one-stop” approach, CEE’s programs help homeowners overcome barriers when considering energy improvements. We help energy utilities to design and implement innovative, cost-effective energy efficiency programs for residential customers.

Increasing our collective impact

The decision to merge with the NEC opened the doors to build upon both organizations’ successes in residential efficiency. Collectively last year, the two organizations conducted energy assessments in more than 8,500 homes, helping Minnesotans save energy through major upgrades and installation of energy-saving products and materials. Combining forces enables CEE to better serve customers and communities with the region’s best energy efficiency programs and services — helping customers control their energy costs while improving the vitality of our local economy.


Photo_Policy200.jpgStrive for high-impact, pragmatic solutions guided by a public interest ethic

CEE advances effective clean energy policies for a healthy low-carbon economy. We’re driven by our longstanding focus on community, consumer protection, and the environment, infused with a practitioner’s perspective. We emphasize saving energy, the lowest cost
and lowest impact way to meet energy needs and reduce harmful emissions. Operating at local, state, and national levels, CEE works across sectors and interests so the policies we advance can be broadly supported.

e21 Initiative: From good ideas to implementation

This year, the e21 Initiative launched its third and final phase. Co-led with Great Plains Institute, e21 unites utilities, consumer advocates, regulators, environmental advocates, and others to better align utility regulations and revenues with a sustainable, low-carbon energy system. Building on a strong record of stakeholder engagement, this phase will explore new products and services for customers and new operational techniques for utilities — shrinking the gap between good ideas and implementation. 

Engagement and Education

Dig into earned expertise and resources to inform energy decision making

At all stages of decision making, energy consumers and providers need trustworthy research and data. We transform our program, policy, and building expertise into tailored resources for a wide range of field contributors. Aiming for a clean and efficient energy system, we inform programs and policy development through a user-centered approach that is rooted in technical assessment.

Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy

For the past three years, CEE has helped Xcel Energy to increase community engagement by locally implementing Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy, an offering for communities in Minnesota and Colorado to develop local stakeholder-based energy plans, complete with technical assistance and resources for implementation. Partners in Energy works closely with each community to develop an energy action plan that addresses their unique energy needs and priorities. To date, 15 Minnesota communities have participated in the program, taking the first step toward achieving their energy goals and vision.  

Engineering For Efficiency

Photo_EngineeringEfficiency200.jpgTake control of your building’s energy waste and savings potential

CEE’s engineers provide technical assistance for commercial and industrial buildings with a commitment to practical solutions for complex issues. Engineers focus on everything from building automation systems to ventilation and lighting. Because efficiency is every company’s lowest-cost option for energy savings, we empower owners of both new and existing buildings to better understand their energy use and improve operations and systems in practical ways.

Recommissioning the National Sports Center

Among current projects, CEE is working with the National Sports Center to provide recommissioning services for the Schwan Super Rink. As a state-owned facility and the world’s largest amateur sports complex, the NSC works hard to make the most of every operating dollar. They brought in CEE to identify low-cost savings opportunities to decrease their annual energy budget and improve overall operations of the ice rinks. Initial results identified $36,000 in savings with a one-year payback and the potential for up to $53,000 annual savings with a payback of 2.7 years, depending on the upfront capital investment.

Lending Center

Photo_Lending200-(1).jpgUpgrade your home or business to improve energy efficiency and comfort

CEE’s Lending Center offers financing to residential property owners for rehabilitation and energy efficiency projects and to businesses for energy-related improvements. In addition to loan programs funded by CEE’s own capital, the Lending Center provides services for partnering cities, utilities, and Minnesota Housing’s Fix Up program. An experienced lender, CEE has provided more than $200 million in home and commercial energy improvement loans since the early 1980s.

Expanded community partnerships

The merger with the NEC allowed CEE to increase its impact and expand its reach to St. Paul and surrounding communities. The Lending Center currently administers loan programs for 14 Minneapolis neighborhoods and eight metro-area cities, with plans to add several additional cities and neighborhoods to the mix. And now, with boots on the ground in St. Paul, CEE is better positioned to serve the east metro, partnering with the City of St. Paul to offer a deferred energy loan and with Ramsey County on their Community Development Block Grants.