Going Green and Saving Green in Dakota County
In 2008, the Dakota County commissioners passed a resolution to "go green" and collaborate with cities to utilize energy-efficient facilities and practices. The countywide "greening initiative" is paying off.
According to a 20-page study the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in Minneapolis, the combined efforts of the cities and Dakota County will save taxpayers at least $200,000 a year. The report chronicles how Dakota County cities have used energy rebates and federal stimulus dollars to reduce heat-trapping fuel emissions while saving on energy costs. Buildings produce about 40% of a municipal government's emissions.
Several cities and to two college campuses in Dakota County have made similar pledges. Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount and Sunfish Lake have gone so far as to join the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities" campaign. The presidents of Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College have both signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. They pledge to identify sources of carbon emissions on their campuses and work to reduce them.
Residents can get in on the action, too. Through Apple Valley's "Better Energy" program, resident homeowners can receive energy-efficiency loans of up to $8,000 per household to retrofit their homes. The Center for Energy Environment does home inspections to determine how to make a house more energy efficient. Additionally, it can direct homeowners to rebates for costly projects such as furnace replacements.
Don't feel left out if you don't live in Dakota County. The state began offering rebates of up to $200 on "Energy Star" appliances with reduced energy needs. Legislation was also passed in April allows cities and counties to provide loans for energy improvements to homeowners and business owners, who then pay the loans back with their property taxes.