Sustainable Duluth: Funding Opportunities


The second monthly workshop on sustainability, co-hosted with Duluth Folk School, attracted over 60 people from around Duluth to learn about energy funding. We brought together local and State experts to explain how to take advantage of federal, state, and local funding opportunities. Many attendees were interested in funding their clean energy projects—right at home. If you were not able to attend, here’s what you missed:

Bret Pence from Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light joined us for another session to talk about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and how to use commercial tax credits. The goal of this act is to clean up electricity, electrify, and keep equity in the center of this action. The IRA gives commercial bodies (including non-profits) direct (elected) pay tax credits. This allows churches, schools, charities, and entities that pay little to no taxes to fund clean energy. Instead of receiving credits applied to taxes at the end of the year, these entities can receive “direct” tax credits which directly provide payment equal to the full value of tax credits. This currently takes the form of a 30% tax credit, with extra qualifying provisions for up to a 60% tax credit off!

Funding 2

Funding 3

Leah Wilkes from the State Energy Office of the Minnesota Commerce Department began the next session to dive deeper into the IRA tax credits and rebates. Everyone is eligible for federal tax credits for weatherization, heat pumps, electric panel upgrades, solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles. Within the IRA there are two federal rebates applicable to homeowners: the Federal Home Efficiency Rebate (HOMES) and the Federal Home Electrification and Appliance Rebate (HEAR). The HOMES rebate is for energy efficient products and building material installations that improve the home energy efficiency by a required percentage. The HEAR rebate is dependent on what the state includes in their energy program but can include heating/cooling, electric stoves/cooktops, electric panel upgrades, and weatherization. Unlike tax credits, some of these state rebates are income eligible. Input received by April 1, 2024 will be considered for the HEAR Implementation Blueprint as well as the HOMES Application and HOMES Implementation Blueprint. Submit written feedback on this form.

Funding 4

Nik Allen is the Northeast Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) which aims to connect individuals and communities in Minnesota to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. To help others take advantage of IRA benefits and other rebates, you can become part of the Inflation Reduction Act Ambassador Program. To become an ambassador you can sign up on CERTs official website. This will take the form of an hour-long class over the summer where you can get an in-depth look into each rebate and tax credit to help you, your family, and your community be more sustainable while not breaking the bank.

Next, we hosted a panel of experts from around the area including: all three previous speakers, and three new ones!

Cameron Kadlubowski, the Community Energy Transition Specialist at Ecolibrium3, returned after appearing at our first workshop! Cameron covered Eco3’s programs and when to take advantage of them. They provide comprehensive energy audits that utilize a large red “blower door” test which depressurizes the house to determine how much heat is escaping from the home and where drafts are located. ECo3 3 will also be introducing Energy Navigation Services to provide 1-on-1 support for homeowners looking to sustainably live in their home.

Eric Fowler, the Senior Policy Associate for the Buildings Team at Fresh Energy, walked us through the importance of planning and being an active citizen. Take note of appliances that could be swapped out for more sustainable alternatives in your home—such as a gas stove—in order to know what you want when that appliance eventually breaks down. Planning ahead will save you both money and time. Eric also mentioned the importance of an electric panel upgrade as it is a “hidden cost” when replacing appliances which. Lastly, Eric stressed the importance of making public comments and speaking out for sustainability.

Alyssa Harries, a Customer Programs and Services Representative Lead at Minnesota Power/ALLETE, noted how utility rebates can range from installing solar panels to simple thermostats. Minnesota Power has a large variety of services from energy audits and diagnostics in your home to large commercial and agricultural rebate programs. Check out MN Power’s website to take full advantage of their services here.

Do you still have questions after this session? Come to our next session which will cover everything to know about waste in the Duluth area. How do I know what I can recycle, what can I compost on my own, and how do I use less in the first place? Come find out on Thursday, March 21st, 6-7:30pm!


Helpful Resources:

Rewiring America’s IRA Calculator: How much money can you get with the Inflation Reduction Act?   *this tool is an estimation*

Energy Star Rebate Finder: Find rebates and special offers near you on ENERGY STAR certified products.

Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency: ENERGY STAR Resource Page

MN EV Rebate Program:  The MN Department of Commerce is now accepting applications for the Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Program.

MN EV Rebate FAQ: Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Program Frequently Asked Questions

MN Home Energy Guide: The Home Energy Guide offers practical information on ways to improve your home’s performance

MN Energy Program Updates: The Minnesota Department of Commerce is establishing numerous new state and federal energy programs.

MN Home Energy Rebates: the Home Energy Rebate program which will help American households save money on energy bills, upgrade to clean energy, improve energy efficiency, and reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution.

MN Air Source Heat Pump Collaborative: The Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) Collaborative is a joint effort with Minnesota Utilities to promote heat pump adoption across Minnesota. 

CERTs Ambassador Toolkit: This toolkit provides video presentations, handouts, slide decks, and presentation scripts to help others better understand the Inflation Reduction Act.

CERTs IRA Guide: The Inflation Reduction Act: what you need to know

Eco3 Energy Audit Request Form: Request a free Home Energy Audit (HEA), available to any Minnesota Power customer.

Comfort Systems Rebates: ComfortSystems offers multiple solutions and rebates to help you save energy costs and to reduce emissions.

MN Power Find a Contractor: Participating contractors have been trained on the requirements for Minnesota Power’s Residential HVAC Rebate Program.

MN Power Programs and Rebates: MN Power Energy Conservation Programs and Rebates

Fresh Energy Resource: Decarbonize! Electrification and You: Exciting rebates to help you kick carbon

Clean Heat MN: Creating a Minnesota where everyone can heat, cook, and power their appliances with Midwest-made clean energy.