Rebates for solar power

Minnesota residents can now take advantage of a new rebate program for up to $10,000 to install solar hot water systems and solar electric systems in their homes.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security kicked off the program, funded with $3 million in federal stimulus money, this month.

Getting the rebates might not be easy, though. Residents must have their homes assessed by an approved contractor before completing an application; installation cannot begin until the application is approved by the Office of Energy Security.

Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Solar rebates for small businesses and for residential solar air heat systems will launch later this month, said Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, a Commerce Department spokeswoman.

This is one of many energy-saving rebate programs funded by federal stimulus money available to Minnesota residents. One, beginning March 1, offers rebates for energy efficient appliances; another, the Energy Saver Program, gives rebates for making energy-saving improvements to homes. More information on all of these programs can be found by visiting the Office of Energy Security's website at www.energy.mn.gov.

SARAH GORVIN

Learning from wind power

Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Minn., has a new learning tool for its students -- a 115-foot tall wind turbine. The turbine, installed on the high school's campus in September, started turning and producing clean, renewable energy last week.

But the environment is not the only thing benefiting from the turbine. "The main benefit that I saw was that we can tie it in with the curriculum," said Eric Hamilton, director of buildings and grounds for the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose school district.

The city of Buffalo will operate a website that will record real-time data from the turbine. Students will be able to log on to track things like wind speed and how much energy the turbine is producing.

Buffalo City Administrator Merton Auger said he hopes the site will be up and running for students in the next couple of months.

SARAH GORVIN