Winona businesses consider energy-saving measures

The city of Winona is looking to go completely carbon neutral by 2050, meaning it won’t create any energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this ambitious goal, city officials and their partners are going door-to-door talking to business owners about the changes they can make right now.

The partnering organizations are planning on talking to 100 small and medium-sized businesses about ways to reduce energy use. During the “energy business blitz” they’re hoping to get the message out there that there’s money to be made by cutting back.

Speaking outside her home, Chris Meyer shows off a black spiral ring binder.

“This is Winona’s Energy Action Plan,” said Meyer, the southeast regional coordinator for CERTS.

As a “Partner in Energy” award winner with Xcel Energy, the city was able to create a comprehensive energy study.

“That helped us figure out what strategies we could use in different sectors,” Meyer said.

One of those sectors is small business.

“We realize that small business, they’re really busy with their business. That’s their expertise, that’s their passion,” said John Howard, the natural resources sustainability coordinator for Winona.

They hope to bring both worlds together.

“It’s a passion,” Meyer said about her love for renewable energy.

She’ll be going around downtown with the Clean Energy Resource Teams and Xcel Energy Wenesday to explain what options businesses have to become more energy efficient.

One way is to finance an energy-saving project through Minnesota’s PACE program or Property Assessed Clean Energy.

“And it’s a way for business to fund their projects and have it assessed back on their taxes,” Howard said.

The incentive allows businesses go green with less financial burden.

“So you’re never paying more on your assessment and your tax than you’re getting back in energy savings,” Howard said.

By doing this outreach, they hope the businesses understand how their investment can help the city reach its energy goals.

“The transition to a clean-energy economy is a thing that is completely possible. We just need to move forward,” Meyer said.

According to Winona’s Energy Action report, 80% of the city’s energy is consumed by commercial and industrial properties, which only makeup 15% of the city.