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New effort supports rural businesses in adopting renewable energy projects

A laundry in Ely with a solar thermal hot water system. A truck stop in Worthington with LED canopy lighting. A farm in Royalton with photovoltaic panels that convert light into electricity.

They're among the energy-efficient projects that small, rural businesses in Minnesota have successfully tackled to save costs and be more earth-friendly.

Now a new program, Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota, is aiming to help more farmers and rural businesses around the state adopt similar renewable energy systems and improvements.

The effort — with support by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — will help applicants find a project and apply for grants to cover 25 percent of the cost.

A statewide partnership, Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams, has been connecting Minnesotans with the resources needed for energy-efficient improvements for more than 10 years. Through the new program, the teams will take it further in assisting small rural businesses. They will offer one-on-one project assistance, helping them explore potential projects and financing options.

Applications for the first round of grants are due June 30. For more information, visit mncerts.org/GreatRenewables or call Fritz Ebinger at (612) 626-1028.

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