Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) was created to help Minnesota residents, utilities, and businesses save money and energy in their natural gas and electricity use. Some of CIP’s benefits include improved awareness and adoption of energy efficient technologies, reduced energy costs for Minnesota households and businesses, deferred costly infrastructure investments, decreased carbon dioxide emissions, and conserved resources. Over the past three decades, CIP has been Minnesota’s most successful energy policy, producing nearly four dollars in energy savings for every dollar invested (Minnesota Department of Commerce).
In 2021, Minnesota passed the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO Act) as its next step on the path to energy efficiency and sustainability. The ECO Act will update and expand CIP, including expanded funding and options for low-income households, increasing the types of qualified energy saving technologies through efficient fuel-switching, increasing investor-owned electric utility conservation goals, and more. This is the final year that Minnesota utility programs will operate under CIP guidelines before the switch to ECO.
Let’s look back on the some of the important CIP-related work that CEE and our partners accomplished in 2022.
One-Stop Efficiency Shop
This program offers a full-service rebate program for small to midsize businesses in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota services territory, with a focus on lighting, free smart thermostat installations, 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 2022, One-Stop completed 1,621 projects including 907 smart thermostat installations, leading to the conservation of 9.7 megawatts and 38.4 gigawatt hours of energy, as well as $5.5 million in disbursed rebates and $3.7 million in annual savings for local businesses.
Home Energy Squad
CEE delivers this service for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint, which pairs on-the-spot installations of energy-saving products with an energy assessment for greater home comfort and savings. At each visit, energy experts install upgrades like LED bulbs, faucet aerators, and smart thermostats. Home Energy Squad completed over 5,500 visits in 2022 and helped save energy amounting to about 2.8 gigawatt hours and 20,000 decatherms. Additionally, more than 1,000 residents used CEE’s free Energy Advisor service to complete energy efficiency projects and earn rebates.
Multifamily Energy Savings Program
This program, provided by Minnesota Energy Resources, 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 11,300 multifamily units, resulting in an average savings each year of $25 per unit on natural gas bills and an additional $25 per unit on electricity.
Regional Residential Energy Programs
Among the offerings that CEE implements for Minnesota Energy Resources, more than 135 Rochester households attended Neighbor Energy Challenge workshops, a joint program of Minnesota Energy Resources and Rochester Public Utilities that connects residents to practical energy efficiency solutions and energy audits. Additionally, CEE staff delivered over 100 energy saving kits to Minnesota Energy Resources customers at manufactured home parks in Mora, Rochester, and Rosemount.
Authorized Insulation Contractor Program
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 2022, the program completed 19 onsite quality assurance inspections. The program also performed four quality assurance inspections in the form of remote phone interviews, added seven new Authorized Insulation Contractor companies, and held two trainings for 13 people to become new Authorized Insulation Contractor crew leaders.
New Homes Single-family and Multifamily Rater Services
This program offers energy consulting and rater services to single-family new home builders and multifamily developers. For single-family new homes, the program performed a variety of energy ratings (HERS, ENERGY STAR, and DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes) for 128 homes and 15 builders. For multifamily developers, the program completed work on seven buildings with five builders and six developers, and certified four affordable housing projects in 2022.
Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency
This Xcel Energy program focuses on small businesses with significant refrigeration loads, like restaurants, convenience stores, and liquor stores. The 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 2022, the program helped connect customers to $7,000 in rebates and helped 30 businesses upgrade their equipment for a total first-year savings of approximately 100,000 kilowatt-hours.
Successful energy conservation requires thoughtful policies, excellent customer service, and high-quality work by a well-trained workforce. We are proud to be part of the vast CIP network that delivers programs tailored to Minnesota’s diverse communities. CIP drives our mission to strengthen the economy while improving the environment.