Grants Available for East End Rental Properties

posted Jan 11, 2018, 12:14 PM by Staci Drouillard   [ updated Nov 23, 2018, 7:20 PM by Matthew Engesser ]

The Cook County Local Energy Project will work with grant funding from the Opp Hvidston Foundation to provide an opportunity for two homes or businesses to increase energy efficiency, save renters money on energy bills, make improvements to existing buildings, decrease carbon dioxide emissions and improve the quality of living standards in the East End of Cook County. Program Details: Full funding for two home or business energy audits conducted by a certified home energy auditor ($400.00 value); plus $100.00 to be spent toward energy improvements. Two grants of $500.00 each are available to qualified property owners. Qualifications & Applications: Priority will be given to rental properties east of Grand Marais including Croftville, Colville, Hovland and Grand Portage. Secondary preference will be given to year-round home or business owners. Applications for consideration should include a letter of interest as well as a completed, pre-audit energy scorecard for the property. Please contact Matthew at for details. Audit Process: Once approved for funding, CCLEP will work with Mike Senty, a licensed home inspector and energy auditor, to schedule a date and time for an in-person audit. Based on data collected during the audit, each property owner will receive a detailed energy use report, a list of recommended energy improvements, a current list of local contractors, and energy related publications and information about energy efficiency. One the work has been completed according to the requirements outlined by the REEP program, each property owner will receive $100.00 reimbursement toward the completed energy improvements. Timeline: Audits and improvements must be completed prior to December 31, 2018.

Deep Winter Greenhouse Workshop

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:26 AM by Will Brandenburg   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:27 AM ]

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The Nordic Nature Group helps pass Climate Inheritance Resolution

posted Feb 24, 2017, 11:04 AM by Will Brandenburg

The Nordic Nature Group successfully introduced their youth climate report card to the Grand Marais City Council in conjunction with iMatter Youth Movement on February 22nd. There were 50 people in attendance at the meeting to support the youth naturalists for taking the lead on climate change.

Their overall grade on how the city is currently combating climate change: D+!

After presenting the report card, the team introduced three important actions the city could take to get that grade up:

1. Create a climate action plan that would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would protect our children and grandchildren in the community from the effects of climate destruction.
2. Begin creating this climate action plan within three months and complete it as soon as possible.
3. Find a way to include the youth voice in decision making for things that have to do with climate change and the environment.

The council unanimously moved to pass a Climate Inheritance Resolution that represents a commitment to creating a climate action plan in the next year and working to improve the city's current grade.

Find out more about iMatter and the Nordic Nature Group and support their resolution at

Upcoming Event: Passive Solar Deep Winter Greenhouse open house!

posted Feb 9, 2017, 9:45 AM by Will Brandenburg

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Passive Solar Deep Winter Greenhouse open house - Saturday, Feb. 18th 1pm-4pm

6771 South Silver Hill Dr, Finland, MN 55603

PLEASE RSVP to so we can contact you with updates or weather related changes!
Contacts for more information: David Abazs 218-220-0194 or Greg Schweser 612-625-9706

The U of M Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships have been working with producers and community groups throughout Minnesota to field test a prototype design of a passive solar greenhouse that enables farmers to produce crops all winter long.
This structure contains a south-facing steeply angled glazing wall specifically designed to capture the maximum amount of solar energy possible. That heat is stored in an underground rock bed in a heavily insulated foundation. At night, that heat dissipates into the ambient air above creating an environment particularly well-suited to grow crops that thrive in low-light and low-heat conditions. This Deep Winter Greenhouse enables small- and mid-scale farmers the opportunity to grow crops for their customers year round.
The Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships have been working with pioneering Deep Winter Greenhouse producers to better understand their systems, strengthen the design elements through research, and conduct outreach to help others learn how to build and produce in these greenhouses. The result is a publicly available prototype design, future research, and production programming.

Support for this project provided by: The UMN Institute on the Enviornment, NMRSDP, Ag Coutnry Farm Credit Services, Agribank, AgStar, United FCS, and Mattson, Macdonald, Young Structural Engineers

For local builders, contractors, businesses and homeowners:

posted Dec 12, 2016, 10:43 AM by Staci Drouillard

Winter is the date.

posted Jul 11, 2016, 12:57 PM by Staci Drouillard

Clean Energy Tax Credit Extended Through 2019

posted Feb 8, 2016, 11:38 AM by Staci Drouillard   [ updated Feb 8, 2016, 11:58 AM ]

Commissioner Rothman: "The federal tax credit extension will help greatly boost renewable energy deployment, reduce emissions and create jobs in Minnesota. The solar industry just enjoyed its best year ever nationwide, with more than 7,000 MW of solar deployed in 2015."

Staci Drouillard is new Coordinator in 2016

posted Jan 8, 2016, 3:35 PM by Virginia Danfelt   [ updated Feb 8, 2016, 11:34 AM by Staci Drouillard ]

Please join Cook County Local Energy Project, CCLEP, in welcoming our new CCLEP Coordinator Staci Drouillard. Staci lives in Cook County and brings a wealth of local knowledge to the position.

Staci earned a BA degree in Native American Studies from University of MN Twin Cities and a Masters in Liberal Studies from University of MN Duluth. Many people know her from Lola’s Sweet Life Bakery, a business she began in 2007 and operated successfully for 9 years. 

She has also produced two original series for WTIP Radio. Staci served on the CCLEP board in 2015 until she was hired in December. She brings a love of the North Shore and a strong commitment to renewable energy to the job.

In her statement to the Board, Staci said, "I’m committed to expanding sustainable energy opportunities and education at the local level. As a solar energy advocate and stand-alone solar home owner, I feel that I can speak to the benefits of energy independence and want to share my first-hand experience with others. I'm very excited to help connect our local clean energy objectives to the growing national trend toward sustainable energy and want to work to make Cook County a leader in sustainable energy practices and renewable energy consumption."

Virginia Danfelt worked as coordinator for the past four years and will continue working with CCLEP and Staci through January 2016.  She then plans to spend more time with her family business, Lake Superior Timber Framing and other endeavors, but her interest in energy use remains a passion.

Happy New Year from CCLEP

posted Dec 31, 2015, 8:58 PM by Virginia Danfelt

To the Cook County Community,

 I have spent the last four years being Cook County Local Energy Project’s (CCLEP) Coordinator. CCLEP’s mission is to promote energy efficiency and clean local renewable energy. This journey brought me close to how we as a community use and regard energy. Here are a few observations:

 At the end of 2015, it is clear that human activity is creating climate change and there are global economic and political responses to these changes. The Paris agreement shows greater cooperation and participation among nations more than ever before. Energy consumption is in the news. Energy usage needs to change, and for the US, it needs to decrease and be generated by cleaner sources.

 So what can we do to change energy use at the level we can control, our own consumption? Promoting reducing energy use by guilt goes nowhere in a hurry. We can all rationalize our actions and notice hypocritical energy use in others. So what’s going on and what can we do?

 My theory is that we live, operate, and consume in relation to those around us, with those whom we consider our peers and what we perceive as a community standard. It is part of an American standard. We choose where we fit and what models to use without really thinking about it. These models dictate what choices we allow ourselves to make.

 So, if we want to make a difference and affect climate change we need to collectively change the community and national standards and create new norms. This can be done in three ways.

 First is to vote for those who work for good energy use policy that paves the way for change.

 Second is to get involved in creating energy policy at the local, state and federal level.

 Third, and the most important, is to examine our own energy use and change the least painful habit first and build from there. Question assumptions that govern purchases and energy use. Don’t worry about when we forget and do things the old way or make a choice that isn’t perfect. Quiet acts collectively change social norms. Set an example.

 Have an energetic 2016!

Virginia Danfelt, CCLEP Coordinator 2012 - 2015

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