Grants make for greener Lake Street businesses

A Lake Street Council program that helps small businesses along the commercial corridor make energy-efficiency upgrades recently got a boost from two grants.

The council reported in April that it worked with the Great Plains Institute and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to secure a $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo Foundation and a $35,000 grant from Carolyn Foundation. Both grants will support the energy efficiency program, which launched in the summer of 2014.

Since then, 83 Lake Street corridor businesses have undergone energy efficiency assessments. Nineteen have gone ahead with improvements at an average cost of just under $4,000, much of it paid for through utility rebates and micro-grants from the council and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Most of those improvements have come in the form of more efficient lighting, the council reported.

The council estimates those projects have collectively reduced annual electricity use by more than 1 million kilowatt hours. The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is equivalent to taking 270 cars off the road, according to the council.

And it’s saving small businesses money. Taqueria la Hacienda, 334 E. Lake St., reportedly cut its energy bills by more than $1,600 per year when it installed more energy efficient lighting.

There are plans to expand the energy efficiency program beyond Lake Street to other Minneapolis commercial corridors.