Small Business Enterprise

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Small Business Enterprise

News from the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program

Housekeeping amendments to air quality rules

The MPCA has opened a public comment period on planned amendments to the air quality rules. This rulemaking is referred to as the Air Quality Housekeeping Rule. The request for comments was published in the State Register on December 14, 2020. Stakeholders should provide comments by February 1, 2021. The MPCA is specifically requesting comments on preliminary concepts for amending the rules.

This rule will clarify air quality protection program terms and definitions, incorporate by reference the federal performance standards to retire waste combustor emission limit variances, and include new requirements for modeling information from Option C, D, and capped air permit holders. The rulemaking will also include provisions to implement the 2020 Legislature’s ban on the use of trichloroethylene (TCE).

More information about the preliminary concepts and this rule is provided on the MPCA air quality housekeeping rule webpage and the MPCA rule docket. If you want to stay updated on the progress of this rulemaking project, join the email subscription list – sign up on the housekeeping rule webpage linked above or the MPCA's GovDelivery portal.

Need help with an efficiency project in 2021?

MnTap intern

When asked why a company would invest time, money, and personnel to intern projects, they often say they needed someone to address waste reduction and energy efficiency projects without having to commit current or new staff. A MnTAP intern can lead their own research and make suggestions that improve efficiency, save money, reduce waste, or decrease regulatory compliance burden. In 2020, MnTAP Interns identified process improvement opportunities that would save $4.2 million for host businesses.

We anticipate supporting up to 15 projects that could focus on process efficiency/lean manufacturing, water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste prevention.

Although applications are accepted through January 2021, companies should apply today for the best chance of being selected. For more information about the intern program or the application process, visit MnTAP’s web site at or contact Matt Domski, MnTAP Intern Program Manager, at 612-624-5119 or

Minneapolis forward rebuild resilient

Green Cost Share

The Mayor’s Minneapolis Forward: Rebuild Resilient initiative is strategy, among many, to assist communities impacted by both the economic effects of COVID19 and the damage done during the unrest after the killing of George Floyd. The program adds an additional $1.17 million in energy assistance for small businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, and those affected by civil unrest. This proposal puts energy efficiency and solar resources in the hands of our impacted businesses to rebuild.

2021 Solar project (up to $50,000)

Deadlines: January 1st, March 1st, May 3rd, and July 2nd
The City of Minneapolis is offering an incentive to qualifying buildings based on solar array’s first year estimated kilowatt hour (kWh) production up to $50,000. Email:

Green Cost Share Web Address:

2021 Energy efficiency project (Up to $40,000)

Deadlines: January 1st, March 1st, May 3rd, and July 2nd
The City of Minneapolis is offering an incentive to qualifying buildings to help pay for energy efficiency upgrades based on the total cost of a project. Email:

Energy Smart Wed Address:

All deadlines are funding-dependent and open until funding is exhausted. Applications are available on the City's website:

Electric snow blowers: is that an option for your business?

Electric snow blower

To build on the wisdom of Ben Franklin, three things are certain in life in Minnesota: death, taxes and snowy winters. As a business owner, you may be tasked with assuring the removal of snow from parking lots and walkways at your facility.

We encourage you to explore the options you might have for electric snow blowers this winter. Old two-stroke engines in snow blowers often have no pollution control devices and can pollute the air more than a motor vehicle. The American Lung Association encourages the switch from gas-powered snow removal equipment as a way help the planet and lung health. Watch the November 2020 webinar

If you and your staff do your own snow removal, you have the added responsibility of maintaining your own equipment. Shifting to electric brings many benefits, including improved air quality, easy equipment maintenance, and reduced operating noise. Options for electric snow blowers and power brooms have increased in quantity and quality in the past few years. Two prevalent power options are those that are battery-powered and a hybrid option (battery-powered with an AC plug-in power source).

If you contract with a snow removal company for your facility, encourage them to consider electric options when it comes time to replace equipment. The low operating noise and improved air quality are great reasons to support your request.

A demonstration of the difference: Take a look at measured air pollution levels from an electric and a gas-powered lawn mower. Go to page 37 in MPCA's 2017 'Air we breathe: The state of Minnesota’s air quality' report.

Programs to help small businesses cut energy costs

Small business illustration

Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a local nonprofit with expertise in energy efficiency, can help your business reduce energy use and earn rebates through cost-effective lighting and HVAC upgrades.

CEE programs for small businesses

FREE smart thermostat installations: Replacing your existing thermostats with Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostats will help you better manage your energy use and earn annual bill credits from Xcel Energy. Visit to learn more and schedule your installation.

One-Stop Efficiency Shop® for Lighting and HVAC: Sponsored by Xcel Energy, this program can help you identify energy-saving lighting and HVAC improvements and earn rebates covering up to 60% of the total project cost. Get started by signing up for a free, no obligation energy assessment at

Center for Energy and Environment implements the One-Stop Efficiency Shop® and Minnesota Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency program on behalf of Xcel Energy.