Category Archives: IPS Solar

30 Years Of Solar Ep. 4: Thank you, Mr. Cartwright!

Michael, students, and the IPS team at the Mounds View High School ribbon cutting.  

Solar for Schools

Michael Cartwright, or Mr. Cartwright as his students know him, has been teaching physics at Mounds View High School for over 25 years. In the summer of 2014, he took a course for teachers at the University of Minnesota that focused on renewable energy and bioproducts. Michael chose to center his research during the course around the environmental and economic opportunities that solar power can provide. 

That research led to a meeting with IPS Chief Development Officer Eric Pasi to discuss options for installing solar panels on Michael’s home. During their conversation, they bonded over their mutual appreciation of Hawaii and talked about some recent rooftop projects IPS had completed with the Chisago Lakes School District. After learning about the opportunities for schools through state legislation and Xcel Energy incentive programs, it seemed to Michael that solar was a great opportunity for Mounds View, economically and educationally.

Michael met with the district’s Assistant Superintendent to discuss solar’s feasibility. It was then brought to the Superintendent and eventually the School Board. After much consideration and research, Mounds View Schools applied for three school projects in a fairly competitive field of requests. This was through the Made in Minnesota program, which used a lottery system to provide incentives to over 1,400 projects in 50 counties to stimulate the growing solar industry. Eventually, after three years of the program, 13 of the school buildings had 40 kW solar arrays operating.

Michael’s fascination with solar didn’t end there. He wanted to utilize the rooftop panels to help teach his students about renewable energy. He lent his expertise to IPS and helped us create the Sunrise Program, even taking a sabbatical from teaching in order to give the program his full attention.  

The Sunrise Program offers complete STEM programs designed to spark students’ curiosity and give them the tools they will ultimately need for success, offering schools three approaches. classroom presentations, fully developed STEM curricula and professional development – that can be mixed and matched to best serve each district. The program runs annual workshops for Minnesota educators, several of which Michael has led himself.  

IPS and the Sunrise Program wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for Michael’s enthusiasm and drive to educate future generations about the importance of solar energy. We’re grateful for his exceptional work, and are inspired by the impact he makes on students, schools, the community, and environment every day. Thank you!

2021 marks a major milestone for IPS, and we’d be thrilled to have you join us in celebrating 30 years of solar. Learn more about the event RSVP here!

30 Years Of Solar Ep. 3: Make a Mudslide Shine

A rare IPS photo of a wind turbine.  

Make a Mudslide Shine

Impact Power Solutions is Minnesota’s leading commercial solar developer, but we haven’t always only installed solar. In the mid 2000’s, we installed several wind turbine projects across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Renewable wind technology was becoming more affordable and there was interest from many landowners, so it seemed like a natural fit for us.

Unfortunately, product defects caused almost all of the turbines we installed to produce much less energy than originally anticipated. Suddenly, our clients were stuck with large, poorly producing wind turbines that had become eye-sores. After it became clear that no amount of maintenance or repair would get these turbines working properly, we decided to disassemble every single one and replace them with PV solar arrays of a similar size. The new solar arrays were installed at no cost to the clients, and would meet or exceed the original estimated production of the turbines.

Chuck Allen was one of these clients. His wind turbine was installed in 2009 and it was immediately clear that it was not going to meet the original production estimates. We replaced the turbine with a 23 kW solar array, which has exceeded the original production estimates of the turbine. IPS has since narrowed its focus strictly to rooftop and community solar, but we continue to draw on our experience from these projects and the lessons we learned from them. We’re extremely grateful for the patient clients that allowed us to make this right, and we continue to try and make every mudslide shine!

2021 marks a major milestone for IPS, and we’d be thrilled to have you join us in celebrating 30 years of solar. Learn more about the event RSVP here!

30 Years Of Solar Ep. 2: Electric Elections

Footage from the installation at Highbridge Power Plant in Saint Paul, MN.  

IPS Rising to the Occasion

In 2008, with election season in full swing, Ralph got a call from an engineer friend at Xcel Energy. The Republican National Convention was scheduled to be held in Saint Paul, Minnesota – and candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin planned to visit Xcel’s nearby High Bridge Power Plant.

Xcel wanted to showcase renewable energy during the visit and asked if IPS could complete an array at the plant beforehand. The initial call was in June and the visit would be in September, which made for a tight timeline. Not shying away from the challenge, Ralph agreed to take on the project.

The system was completed with a week to spare: it was amazing to see how top security clearance could speed up a job. And the candidates each got to shake hands with our governor with the solar arrays as the backdrop.

The array is still producing, IPS still values its relationships with utilities (and both sides of the aisle), and we still get even the most challenging jobs done right and on time!

2021 marks a major milestone for IPS, and we’d be thrilled to have company join us in celebrating 30 years of solar. Learn more about the event RSVP here!

A Recap of the Red Lake Webinar

In February of 2016, Red Lake Nation announced plans of beginning a solar project to power several of their buildings in Northern Minnesota. With a rising mercury level in their local lakes from coal plant emissions, the savings from solar would allow the tribe’s commercial fishery to continue operation. 

Corporate financing fell through, but with the help of creative financing and community interest, the tribe completed the first of several installations, progressing toward one of the largest solar projects in Northern Minnesota.   

In this webinar, the panelists shared their first-hand experience with the project, answering these important questions:

    • What has this project taught you?
    • How does renewable energy fit with the tribe’s accountability decree?
    • How important was it to involve the local workforce with the installation instead of bringing in outside crews?
    • How can other communities use this project as a model?
    • When did you become aware of MnVest and what made you go that direction for project financing?
    • How did you find out about the Red Lake project and why is it important to share this story?
    • What has the reaction been from tribe members?
    • What is your definition of energy sovereignty?
    • What is the relationship between clean energy and equity in Minnesota, and how can clean energy businesses play an increased role in helping low-income and communities of color have increased access to clean energy?
 

Panelists:

Amelia Cerling Hennes of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, Bob Blake of Solar Bear, Ralph Jacobson of IPS, Darrell G. Seki Sr of Red Lake Nation.  

Solar Energy: A Tool For Community Empowerment

 

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota in collaboration with Solar Bear and Impact Power Solutions invite you to watch the video premiere of Red Lake Nation’s solar story!

In February of 2016, Red Lake Tribal leaders announced plans to become energy independent. Unfortunately, the band experienced economic hardship and was unable to install solar on their own.

With support from the community and solar industry leaders, a creative plan was developed to help Red Lake achieve their vision by leveraging crowdfunding. The plan was a success, and construction on phase two began last month on one of the largest solar projects in Northern Minnesota.

Join us to learn:

● How Red Lake tribal leaders are using solar energy to achieve energy independence.
● How this project is creating jobs and opportunities for Red Lake Nation.
● How solar will help this community live sustainably.
● The challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
● What’s in store for the next steps of the project and the community.

Following the premiere, join the project’s stakeholders for a Q&A session to answer questions about the project, and how you can bring clean energy to your community.

 

Register for Free!

Robert Blake

Founder & Solar Outreach @Solar Bear

Robert Blake is the owner of Solar Bear a solar installation company located in Minneapolis, MN, the Ojibwe pronunciation is Gizis-o-makwa. Robert is the Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development a Non- Profit located also in Minneapolis, MN. Robert is a graduate student at the University of Minnesotan Carlson Executive Master of Business Administration (CEMBA) program. Robert is a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Nation. His passion is spreading the word of renewable energy through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

Darrell G. Seki, Sr.

Chairman @Red Lake Nation

Ralph Jacobson

Founder & Chief JEDI Officer @Impact Power Solutions

While earning his Bachelor of Science in Materials Science (Minnesota, 1989), Ralph developed a strong interest in photovoltaics. He decided to get into the business of designing and installing PV power systems, and in 1991, he founded IPS. In his 20-year service on the board of directors of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, Jacobson initiated events such as the MN Solar Boat Regatta, the MN Solar Home Tour, and public classes on solar energy. More recently, he served as the founding president of the MN Solar Energy Industries Association. He is currently engaged in pioneering the market for energy storage in Minnesota and more engagement with people of color in the local industry.

Amelia Cerling Hennes

Director of Communications & Public Affairs @Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Amelia is responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies to broaden the impact of CEEM’s public policy and oversee the organization’s overall communications and marketing strategy. Amelia is a storyteller at heart – and uses stories to help further CEEM’s mission to support and expand clean energy jobs and economic opportunities provided by clean, reliable and affordable energy on behalf of all Minnesotans. Amelia holds degrees in broadcast journalism and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She has more than a decade of experience in her field, including serving in the communications department at the Minnesota Senate, and serving as Weekend Anchor for the NBC affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

IPS Solar is now Impact Power Solutions

 

IPS Solar is now Impact Power Solutions.

We are proud to share that we have a new name and brand identity! It’s a different look, but rest assured, our core beliefs haven’t changed at all. Our unwavering commitment to our values, our customers and our mission remains the same.

All companies work to generate profits and create value, but the best run-companies do more. They have a broader, more complete view of corporate responsibility that is focused on creating value for all. That mindset has helped pilot our business for 30 years, emphasizing long-term success over short-term gains. Now, as our company enters this exciting new era, we feel that it’s time to update our name and mission to reflect those beliefs. 

We believe our new name, Impact Power Solutions, better embodies who we are, what we believe in, and how we help our clients succeed. As we grow, so does the impact we have on our clients, the communities we serve, and the climate. We are dedicated to maximizing that impact on and off the balance sheet.

That means continuing current initiatives like our Sunrise Educational Program and our efforts promoting local workforce development, while starting new ones like our partnership with the American Forests Organization to plant one tree for every kilowatt of solar we install.  

Company founder Ralph Jacobson is taking on a new role as Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer.  This will allow him to expand his efforts with under-represented communities.  Ralph is working on phase two of the Red Lake Solar project this year, bringing in tribal members to learn about solar technology and career pathways while installing panels on roofs. 

Our core purpose – to build a better future by providing access to renewable energy – has always been the foundation of our success, and will remain the cornerstone of who we are as we take on a new name and look. 

We’d like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of the clients and partners who have helped us make the last 30 years a success. We can’t wait for the next 30! 

IPS Announces Tree Planting Partnership

 

Turning Solar Into Saplings!  

We’re extremely excited to announce our partnership with American Forests to plant one tree for each kilowatt of solar we install in 2020 and beyond! 

Climate change can’t be solved without fully using the power of forests to help capture and store carbon dioxide emissions generated by human activity. More than 14 percent of U.S. carbon emissions each year are absorbed by our forests, and there is potential to grow this natural carbon sink by restoring our forests and planting more trees. 

American Forests is the oldest national conservation organization in the country. They have been working to restore threatened forest ecosystems and inspire people to value and protect urban and wildland forests for over 140 years. 

Expanding the tree canopy of our nation’s forests will improve the quality of life for residents and make our communities more sustainable, beautiful and livable. We’re honored to be working with a great organization like American Forests to help make this happen!

 

 

Celebrate Earth Day at Amsterdam Bar!

Earth Day Solar Happy Hour

Join us at Amsterdam Hall & Bar to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and we’re celebrating!

After an advocacy-filled day at the State Capitol, we’re making the short trip over to Amsterdam Hall and Bar to celebrate 50 years of solar progress.

Details

– This is a free event
– All ages are welcome!
– Appetizers will be provided


For more info on other Earth Day activities: https://mnearthday.org/

Amsterdam Hall is a quick Green Line trip from the Capitol. IPS will provide light rail passes for all attendees.

 

Register for Free!

 

Map to Earthday Solar Happy Hour

Mounds View Solar Educator Workshop Recap

On Saturday, February 8th, we hosted our first Solar Educator Workshop of 2020 at Mounds View High School. We had a wonderful time helping over 20 teachers develop new solar curriculum to bring to their classrooms and STEM programs!

Our Education Director, Michael Cartwright (a physics teacher for over 20 years) leads the workshops with IPS as a part of our Sunrise Program

Our Sunrise Program provides FREE Training – presenting some data visualization tools, as well as offering insight about how to adapt solar lessons for your classroom.

Sunrise event attendees receive three hours worth of continuing education credits and Solar Activities Kits to use in their classrooms.

Interested in attending a future educators workshop? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed!

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2020 Solar Trends: Opportunity Zones

Opportunity zones are certified low-income areas into which investors can deploy capital for value-adding projects, in exchange for federal capital gains tax and other advantages. 


In general, capital gains are incurred when selling an appreciated asset such as real estate or stocks.  The appreciated gain is taxed at a special rate, which is typically 15% to 20%.


By investing in opportunity zones an investor’s capital gains rate can be reduced by 50% to 75% depending on how long the investment is held.  


Opportunity zone funds can be used for solar, microgrids, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy storage.


Another benefit, Investors will not be taxed on any capital gains incurred from a project if they hold that property or asset for a decade or more.


There are 8,760 opportunity zones in all 50 states.