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State gets millions for energy efficiency efforts

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The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security recently announced that Minnesota has been awarded $21.7 million in federal stimulus funds for retrofitting existing public buildings and homes, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and to develop new training opportunities.

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The funding represents the first installment of the $54.1 million set aside for Minnesota in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Minnesota will put its ARRA funds to use improving energy efficiency in residential, commercial and government buildings, as well as increasing the amount of renewable energy produced in state.

The State Energy Program (SEP) will award grants to small, medium, and large businesses to help provide for the design, financing and installation of various energy efficiency improvements and retrofits.

The state will also administer grants to work with utilities to develop programs that leverage Recovery Act funds to promote energy efficiency with customers, such as low-interest loans and grants.

"We are excited to be among the first states to have their plans approved and we hope to get these projects moving as soon as possible," said Bill Glahn, director of the Office of Energy Security. "We are ahead of the nation when it comes to benchmarking our public buildings for energy efficiency improvements, so we already know where to get the most bang for the buck."

After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive more than $27 million in additional funding, for a total of more than $54 million. This money is in addition to the $132 million the state will receive for weatherization grants for low-income households.

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