Photo by Zach Anderson

Those who discussed the benefits of the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) were Randy Wildman (Wildman’s Electric), Craig Moe (ASB Building Services Manager), Justin Zavadil (ASB President), Senator Torrey Westrom, Bill Finley (ASB Vice President Finance), Jamie Fitzke (Center for Energy and Environment Program and Policy Manager) and Mike Verhulst (Center for Energy and Environment Lighting Consultant).


By Zach Anderson

Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) has saved businesses and residential customers money since its creation in 1983. Representatives of the Center for Energy and Environment held an informational session to share the benefits of CIP with Senator Torrey Westrom (Sen. District 12) and American Solutions for Business (ASB) staff at ASB last Thursday.

Jamie Fitzke, Center for Energy and Environment Program and Policy manager, said that through CIP, utility companies, such as Xcel Energy offer energy efficient rebates to business and residential customers. The goal of the meeting was to show legislators the real life impact of CIP.

Overall, energy efficiency saves customers money and provides 14 percent of the electricity demand in Minnesota. If energy companies had to come up with that extra 14 percent of electricity, it would mean building more power plants, which cost would fall on consumers. Fitzke said the CIP program is meant to encourage business and residential customers to move to more energy efficient fixtures in their homes and businesses, such as LED light bulbs, efficient heating and cooling systems and efficient water heating.

Bill Finley, ASB’s Vice President of Finance, said that through energy efficient rebates and changing lights to LED’s at ASB’s facilities, it has resulted in a savings of about 20 percent in utility costs for ASB. The CEE’s One-Stop Efficiency Shop Lighting Program has given ASB approximately $16,000 in rebates, with an annual savings of 53 kW in demand and 175,000 kWh (energy equivalent to 57,500 loads of laundry). The lighting project will pay for itself in 2.6 years and save over $350,000 in lifetime electricity savings.

ASB President Justin Zavadil said there really isn’t a reason to not use the program. There is a financial benefit for ASB with energy efficiency, as well as sustainability for the business, plus its better for the environment.

Randy Wildman of Wildman’s Electric said he has done many such projects, including the lighting at ASB. Wildman said it benefits businesses by getting new infrastructure, rebates to help pay for it, plus less maintenance costs.

CIP has had a positive impact for ASB as well as the rest of MN Senate District 12. Over $1.2 million dollars have been invested in energy efficient lighting, approximately $450,000 dollars given back in a one-time rebate. District 12 has seen over $300,000 in yearly savings on electricity costs. District 12 includes the communities of Glenwood, Morris, Sauk Centre, Ortonville, Elbow Lake and Alexandria.

There are 170 businesses in District 12 that have used the one-stop lighting rebate; 67 homes have received a home energy visit. The energy efficiency is equivalent to over 14 acres of solar.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, a company can spend about 1.5 cents to save a kilowatt-hour of electricity, or about eight cents to buy the same amount. Through program-supported energy audits and utility rebates, MN CIP generates four dollars in economic benefits for every one dollar invested. CIP added over $5 billion in economic output in MN 2008-13. Since 2006, CIP programs have helped cut over 8 million tons of CO2 emissions in Minnesota, which is equal to pulling about two million cars off Minnesota roads for a full year.