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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 or call Fritz Ebinger at (612) 626-1028.