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Loans available for alternative energy, conservation

Minnesota residents now have access to $10 million for micro-energy and conservation home improvement loans to save on energy costs under a new program approved by the 2008 Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Minnesota residents now have access to $10 million for micro-energy and conservation home improvement loans to save on energy costs under a new program approved by the 2008 Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Homeowners can get loans for solar, wind and geothermal energy additions as well as more traditional high-efficiency efforts to reduce energy costs.

Micro-energy and conservation loans will be made by the Fix-Up Fund, a statewide program that offers affordable, low-interest fixed-rate loans through Minnesota Housing's large network of lending partners across the state. Homeowners are encouraged to get an energy audit from their utility company to determine the most cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements. Interested homeowners can then apply for the loans directly through a Fix-Up Fund lender. Lenders are listed at www.mnhousing.gov/

consumers/lender.

Projects eligible for micro-energy and conservation loans include:

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* Renewable energy generation including solar thermal, solar electric and wind turbines.

* Home improvements that are either Energy Star-rated or qualify for a utility rebate, including high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting.

* Insulation and air sealing.

The maximum loan amount is $35,000 over a term of 10 or 20 years. The borrower must be the year-round owner and occupant of the home.

For more information on energy efficiency, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or the state's Weatherization Assistance Program, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Info Center at (800) 657-3710, e-mail energy.info@state.mn.us or go to www.energy.mn.gov and click on Energy Info Center.

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