Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program: 2019 Highlights at CEE
In 2007, the Next Generation Energy Act instituted energy-saving goals for gas and electric utilities in Minnesota. Utilities meet those goals through programs within the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), which “helps Minnesota households and businesses use electricity and natural gas more efficiently — conserving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and lessening the need for new utility infrastructure” (Minnesota Department of Commerce).
CIP has been Minnesota’s most successful energy policy in the last three decades. Savings through energy efficiency now amount to about 14% of Minnesota’s electricity demand, which has allowed the state to limit costly utility infrastructure updates while keeping electric and gas rates low. And every dollar invested in efficiency results in at least four dollars in savings, benefits, and economic growth — CIP supports more than 47,000 Minnesota jobs and billions of dollars in positive economic impact since its inception (Minnesota Department of Commerce).
Under contract with a number of energy utilities, CEE delivers several CIP-supported programs — ranging from home energy audits to contractor quality assurance, rebates for small businesses, and more. Here are a few 2019 highlights:
This program offers a full-service rebate program for small businesses in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory, with a focus on lighting and rooftop unit improvements. One-Stop provides practical solutions to energy efficiency challenges by addressing common barriers such as limited financial resources, lack of access to high-quality contractors, and time constraints. In 2019, One-Stop completed 2,265 projects, leading to the conservation of 14 megawatts and 62 gigawatt hours of energy, as well as $7 million in disbursed rebates and $5.8 million in annual savings for local businesses.
CEE delivers this service for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, which pairs on-the-spot installations of energy saving products with an energy assessment for greater home comfort and savings. In each visit, we install energy upgrades like LED bulbs, water savers, and smart thermostats. We partner with 30 local cities and neighborhoods (and counting) to help cut the cost of visits for residents. In 2019, we visited 8,824 homes, and helped save energy amounting to about 6.3 gigawatt hours and 29,390 decatherms. Nearly 800 residents used CEE’s free Energy Advisor service to complete energy efficiency projects and earn rebates.
Provided by Minnesota Energy Resources, this program is designed to help multifamily building owners save energy through rebate incentives and direct installation of energy saving products like high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators. Since its inception, the program has served more than 8,600 multifamily units, resulting in an average of $30 per unit, per year savings on natural gas bills from direct-install measures alone. Since 2018, the program has also developed partnerships with Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, Freeborn Mower, Dakota Electric, and Rochester Public Utilities to provide joint natural gas and electric services to multifamily buildings. Thanks to those partnerships, electric direct-install measures were installed in more than 1200 units, saving an additional $25 per unit, per year.
We help connect homeowners with energy-saving resources and provide information about efficiency methods through partnerships with regional utilities such as Austin Public Utilities, Minnesota Energy Resources, Otter Tail Power, Owatonna Public Utilities, and Rochester Public Utilities. Among its 2019 accomplishments, the program held the first ever Community Energy Services workshop in Bemidji, and five Neighborhood Energy Challenge workshops in Rochester — all told, more than 160 households participated.
Energy Intelligence for Industry
Designed to help small- and medium-sized Minnesota manufacturers understand energy use and implement customized energy efficiency plans to prevent energy waste, the program uses 15-minute interval data displayed on an online dashboard. The program worked with Xcel Energy customers to identify free or low-cost opportunities to save energy, aiming for at least 5% energy savings per site. After a productive seven-year run, the Energy Intelligence pilot program came to a close in 2019, having helped 147 Minnesota manufacturers.
This program offers insulation and air sealing services in the region served by Minnesota Energy Resources. Participating contractors benefit from easy access to competitive utility-paid rebates. In 2019, the program completed 38 on-site quality assurance inspections. The program also performed four quality assurance inspections in the form of phone interviews, added one new Authorized Insulation Contractor company, and enhanced its team with two new Authorized Insulation Contractor crew leaders.
This Xcel Energy program focuses on small businesses with significant refrigeration loads, like grocery, convenience, and liquor stores. This full-service program offers technical assistance and rebates to small business owners who are interested in upgrading existing refrigeration equipment to more efficient options. In 2019, the program disbursed $65,000 in rebates and helped 120 businesses upgrade their equipment for a total savings of 834,580 kWh.
Reaching beyond these successful programs delivered by CEE, there are even more CIP success stories across the state. Ensuring continued energy efficiency success in Minnesota requires sound policies, excellent customer service, and high-quality work done by many well-trained professionals.
We at CEE are proud to be part of the CIP network, devoted to delivering community-based programs that provide Minnesotans with jobs, low energy rates, and a cleaner environment. CIP is an essential part of our nonprofit’s ongoing mission to discover and deploy the most effective energy solutions that strengthen the economy and improve the environment.
Austin Public Utilities
Dakota Electric Association
Minnesota Energy Resources
Otter Tail Power Company
Owatonna Public Utilities
Rochester Public Utilities