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Knott's Corner Bar and Grill in Lucan, MN cooking up energy savings with PACE

Folks in Redwood County might know Knott’s Corner Bar and Grill in the town of Lucan (pop. 191) for their delicious Buffalo Wings. What they might not know is that the business has become much more energy efficient and is saving energy dollars with the help of the Rural Minnesota Energy Board’s Property Assessed Clean Energy(PACE) program.

Not familiar with PACE? Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period.

After a couple years successfully running Knott’s Corner, which used to be the Brau Haus, owner and Lucan native Anna Knott decided it was time for a renovation. Located right on Main Street, the business is incorporating energy efficiency improvements into their reno plans, installing LED Lighting, a Desuperheater for hot water heating, a multi-zone refrigerant compressor, R42 insulation, and variable speed ventilation fans. The energy audit estimates that these improvements will result in nearly $5,000 in annual energy savings. The project costs is just over $52,000 with a 10 year payback term requested. With a 4% interest rate that puts the annual payment of roughly $2,580.

Robin Weis, Economic Development Director with the Southwest Regional Development Commission, coordinated the PACE financing. “Low-interest PACE financing made it possible for the building owners of Knott’s Corner to incorporate energy-saving upgrades into their remodel.”

According to Peter Lindstrom, CERTs Local Government Outreach Coordinator, Knott’s Corner is not alone: “More and more businesses across Minnesota are using PACE to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. People like it because it is cash-flow positive and eliminates the burden of up-front costs.”

Project Snapshot:

  • Location: Knott’s Corner Bar and Grill, Lucan (Redwood County)
  • Description: LED Lighting, Desuperheater for hot water heating, Multizone refrigerant compressor, R42 insulation, Variable speed ventilation fans
  • Useful Life of Upgrades: 12, 15, and 20 years (depending on equipment)
  • PACE Loan Term: 10 years, 4% interest rate
  • Project Costs: $52,093.98
  • Annual Energy Savings: 232.37 MMBTU
  • Savings Per Year: $1,194 for 12 years, $3,408 for 15 years, or $4,894.56 total per year for equipment life
  • Annual Payments: $2,580 for 10 years
  • Annual Net Savings: $2,314.56 for 10 years
  • Total Net Savings: Total Net Savings: $23,145.60 over loan term + $22,348 over remaining useful life = $45,493.60

* Total Net Savings is calculated by multiplying the useful life of the improvement by the estimated annual savings, then subtracting the cost for materials, installation, and interest over the term of the assessment.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners.

Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

See more resources and available programs >>

Showcasing Renewable Energy Projects in Redwood County

1.  Community Solar Project Moves Forward: 

solar panelsRedwood Electric members will soon be able to participate in a community solar array.  The REC community solar project will allow members that have an interest in using renewable energy to directly purchase energy production from a solar array located on REC lines.   Members will get kWh credits on their bill just as if they had a system installed on their home.  The community solar approach means members don't have to install or maintain anything.  "It's worry free solar" states REC Member Services Specialist, Sarah Groebner.   "You pay for it once and get credits for the solar array for 20 years on your monthly bill."

According to Ron Horman, REC General Manager, "Community solar is one of the best ways to meet the needs of members that would like renewable energy without affecting those members that don't.   Members that particiapte in the program pay for the system."  Community solar has become vewry popular across the country as electric cooperatives look for ways to meet member's needs.   REC reached an agreement with Highwater Ethanol, LLC to place the array on their property next to REC Highwater Substation!   Renewable electricity will soon be generated at the same location our local farmers are creating renewable fuel.   Look for more exciting news on Redwood Electric's Community solar array in coming newsletters on their website

Photo submitted by Highwater Ethanol, Lamberton!

2.   Zinniel Electric, Morgan, MN:  

The Welter Professional Building on the north side of Morgan, MN is owned by CJT Enterprises. Purchased in 2004, the building is approx. 13,000 sq ft and hosts commercial office space for several businesses in addition to a spacious shop.

Zinniel Electric, which maintains an office on the premises and utilizes the shop, installed a 39.36kW solar array on the east end of the property.  The PV array serves double duty: offsetting the utility costs of the building (which can run $5,500 annually on average), as well as providing an on-site showcase of Zinniel Electric’s work with solar electricity.

This 39.36kW array is a fully-integrated system from TenKsolar (Bloomington, MN), consisting of:

  • 96 TenKsolar XT-A 410W polysilicon modules (http://tenksolar.com/wp-content/uploads/410W-Module-Data-Sheet.pdf)
  • 96 Titan Gen 2.1 acrylic reflector panels 
  • 6 RAIS 208V Inverter Bus Assemblies

The array is ground-mounted on steel poles, lofted approximately 8 feet in order to allow for lawn maintenance on the ground below.  This system has reflector panels facing north to reflect additional sunlight onto the south-facing modules and increasing their production by an estimated 20%.  The system was commissioned on August 31, 2015.solar panels from ground level angle

3.  Curt & Karla Trost, 27482 290th Street, Wabasso, MN

ctrost@live.com, 507-430-1621

Renewable Energy:   Solar & Geothermal

The Trosts installed their solar photovoltaic system March 25, 2011.  They built their new home in 2005 and installed the geothermal at the time of construction.  It is a horizontal installation with the vegetable based anti-freeze as the coolant/conductor.  Curt designed the house to best capture the sun's heat gain in the winter, and minimize it during the summer.  The home was built with trusses that incorporate large overhangs and many windows with southern exposure.  The house is insulated with urethane foam.  

Product:

Zinniel Electric from Sleepy Eye did the installation of the solar PV system and Duane Duscher from Lucan Plumbing & Heating installed the geothermal system.

Savings & Financing:

  • They now average about $440/year for their home's utilities -- heat, cooling, and electric.  Redwood Electric Coop tracks their consumption.  
  • Their old house was 1/4th the size of their new home and just to heat their old home they were spending about $1300 - $1500/year just for heat!
  • The payback on their solar system is 7 years.   His system size is 34.5 kw, and produces 51,000 kwh/year.  The reflector coating on the north side of the panels boosts the watts by 30%, and the coating helps minimize the heat build up.  The system is rated at 75 degrees.  He loses about .5% of every degree above 75 in efficiency.  The colder temps/bright sunny days are the most efficient, gaining .5% for every degree below 75.  He also likes the fact that there is no regular maintenance and the system has operated almost flawlessly since startup.  The digital technology will let him know where the problem is if something is not working properly, and tenKsolar does onsite calls to switch out the circuit boards if necessary.  tenKsolar has improved their technology and now the panels have increased the watts produced by 30%.  There are no moving parts -- his system is stationery.  
  • The electricity produced is used for his drying operation on the farm, plus his home, and storage building.  He does net metering 11 months out of the year with the exception being harvest time.  Redwood Electric Coop is great to work with.
  • He does have a backup LP tank, a gas fireplace in their home, and with the geo thermal he has never had to use any of the backup systems.
  • Financing for his project was 25% from a USDA REAP grant, a 30% tax credit incentive he deducted from his taxes, and because it is farm use, he can utilize accelerated depreciation or depreciate the system over seven years.
  • Prices for photovoltaic systems have come down about 30% since he installed his system 2.5 years ago.  His decision to do this project was a way to hedge energy costs for his operation and meet his minimum acceptable ROI as a farm investment for the future.  The emotional ecological clean energy aspect was secondary in the Trost's decision to proceed with the project.  It was the right thing to do and it is working out as planned.  The equipment should last for 50 years.

energy efficiency

solar panels alternative view

solar panels grain leg in background

energy efficient equipment

energy efficient controls

energy efficient home

4.  SMMPA/Wind Turbines: 

The two turbines featured at the top of the page belong to SMMPA and provided renewable energy to their grid and to Redwood Falls.  They are located west of Redwood Falls.  Thanks to Doug Tisue, Redwood Falls, for taking this amazing photo!

5.  Northwest Drywall

located in Redwood Falls installed their movable solar panel system in 2011. 

northwest drywall solar panels

6.  Weltsch Equipment Solar Array:  

Installed December of 2014! Click here for their complete story!  

7.  Mike & Mary Preuss

Solar panel residential:  

interior photo

rooftop solar panels

energy control panel

battery

Wind Technology in Redwood County

Small-scale Wind turbines have been approved and installed, and are operational  at the following farms: 

  • Richard Green
  • Gary Kranz
  • Glenn Rohlik
  • Rob Palmer
Fast Fact Image

Redwood County offers industrial park sites, excellent transportation corridors, 94.7 miles of railroad track, a regional airport located in Redwood Falls, and excellent health care facilities across our county including the North Memorial Air Care Helicopter Ambulance located at the Redwood Fall Airport.

Virtual Tour

CLICK HERE FOR A Redwood County Virtual Tour