City offering funding for refrigeration upgrades

The City of Minneapolis is offering funding to businesses that make refrigeration tune-ups and efficiency upgrades after receiving an on-site assessment from Xcel Energy.

The city will fund up to 20 percent of total project costs for businesses in most areas of Minneapolis and up to 30 percent of the cost for businesses located in the Green Zone areas. The city says that business owners can save as much as 50 percent on their projects, after combining city funding with utility rebates.

The city will distribute a maximum of $10,000 per project and will distribute the funds on a first-come, first-serve basis until they are depleted. Businesses and organizations must be located in Minneapolis and be eligible to participate in Xcel’s Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency Program to qualify for funding.

The program comes as the city, Xcel and CenterPoint Energy continue working toward the city’s Climate Action Plan and Energy Vision for 2040 goals. The Climate Action Plan calls for reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025, from a 2006 baseline. The Energy Vision for 2040 calls for providing “reliable, affordable, local and clean energy services for all Minneapolis homes, businesses and institutions” in 2040.

Refrigeration can be one of the biggest drivers of energy use in restaurants, grocery, convenience and liquor stores, according
to the Center for Energy and Environment, which implements the Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency Program on behalf of Xcel. According to Xcel, refrigeration can account for over half of a businesses’ monthly electricity costs, depending on the industry.

Xcel has over $176,000 budgeted for commercial-refrigeration programs statewide, according to Randy Fordice, senior media relations representative.

The new program is part of the city’s Green Business/Housing Cost Share Program, through which Minneapolis offers businesses grants for investing in cleaner, greener or more efficient technologies. The city estimates that the program reduced air pollution by nearly 40,000 pounds in 2016 alone.

Over 150 programs

Xcel has more than 150 programs to help customers save energy and manage their bills in the eight states in which it operates, according to Fordice. The company is required to spend a 2 percent of its gross-operating revenues from services provided in Minnesota on energy- conservation improvement, per a 2007 state law.

That law, the Next Generation Energy Act, sets a goal of statewide energy savings equal to 1.5 percent of annual retail sales of electricity and natural gas.

Xcel Energy customers have saved enough electricity to avoid building 20 average-sized power plants since 1992, according to Fordice. He added that energy-efficiency programs save money both in terms of direct savings for customers and also prevent the company from needing to build additional infrastructure.

Xcel provides its Minnesota businesses customers with no-cost, on-site refrigeration assessments, which can help them identify energy- and money-saving improvements. Call 455-7803 or email to learn more.

Additionally, the federal Energy Star website provides best practices for business owners, home owners and residents to reduce energy usage. Those tips include:

• Set the appropriate temperature. Keep your refrigerator at 35–38 degrees.

• Place your fridge in a cool place. Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.

• Allow air circulation behind the fridge. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model.

• Read the user’s manual to learn how to safely clean coils. Coil cleaning brushes can be purchased at most hardware stores.

• Check the door seals. Make sure the refrigerator seals around the door are airtight. If not, replace them.

• Keep the door closed. Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.