Promote resident/business purchases and/or generation of clean energy by:
a. Promoting a local utility's green power purchasing program that allows residents/businesses to order/buy new renewable energy.
b. Creating and sharing a map of the community’s solar resource and/or linking to the Minnesota Solar Suitability App.
c. Connecting residents/businesses with the Solar Directory for potential installers.
d. Hosting a community-wide solar bulk-buy program or campaign (also called "solarize" programs).
Minnesota electrical utilities, while no longer required to offer their customers the opportunity to purchase renewably generated electricity, often do offer this option. The renewable generation capacity created by a customer (city, business, resident) under these "green pricing" programs is above and beyond other laws requiring utilities to produce target amounts of renewable energy. See a list of all buy green power utility programs in Minnesota.
A city can facilitate the bulk buying power of residents, city employees and employees of a large business to allow for discounts on home renewable systems. Two different organizations work with Minnesota communities to provide these sorts of programs: The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) provides information about Solar Group Buys; Solar United Neighbors of Minnesota provides information about solar co-ops and bulk buys.
Solar can also provide long-term financial relief to families struggling with high and unpredictable energy costs, living-wage jobs, and a source of clean, local energy sited in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by traditional power generation. See the Low-income Solar Policy Guide description for Community Purchase Programs, also known as group buys, bulk-buys or solarize programs, for guidance.
Read about Solarize Kingfield in Minneapolis, a neighborhood group-led project of 2012 that organizes bulk-buying/installation of renewables for businesses and homeowners, resulting in lower per unit costs.
Report methods used, such as information included in a city newsletter and on the city website, and active ongoing promotion (twice or more per year) at city events, through city loan programs and the like. For green power purchasing through a municipal utility, report total kWh per year subscribed along with the number of participating households.
Partner with utility and local organization/community groups to promote this information (at least quarterly) through city utility bill inserts, workshops, community education courses, local lectures, facilitated group purchases, etc. Provide translators and interpreters, childcare, stipends, and/or meals for residents during community engagement/education meetings.
Describe how the city supported a bulk-buy program of renewable energy (for residents, city employees, or employees of a business); be recognized as an EPA Green Power Community, or report installed capacity as a result of a city-supported program or campaign.
Who's doing it
Burnsville - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2022
In 2022, Burnsville participated in Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Grow Solar Twin Cities program, a program that promotes solar group buys for residents and businesses. Burnsville promotes onsite solar, community solar, and green power purchasing on the Sustainability Hub as well as displaying city-wide participation.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In 2022, sixteen Burnsville residents attended a Grow Solar workshop and five households in Burnsville received onsite solar proposals.
Our City Code Title 11-9E-6 offers a density bonus when - a site planning concept demonstrating innovative energy conservation efforts, including features such as orientation of lots and/or units for maximum use of passive solar energy, earth sheltering, alternative energy sources and preservation of solar access for active solar energy systems.
The City has a “Solar Energy” web page which includes information on Xcel Energy’s green power purchasing programs as well as a link to their web page for residential renewable options. The City’s web page also includes a link to the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s online solar app which can be used by residents to assess their property’s solar potential.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
As of 2016, four businesses and 13 residential customers have installed onsite solar and are participating in Xcel’s “solar rewards” program with a total capacity of 193 kW, producing a total of 51,483 kWh of energy. In addition, one business that installed onsite solar is listed as participating in the “non-solar rewards” program with a capacity of 840 kW.
In 2015, two businesses and 396 residential customers participated in Xcel’s Windsource program, for a total of 1,204,172 kWh in subscribed energy.
In 2016, three businesses and 435 residential customers participated in Windsource, for a total of 1,744,623 KWh in subscribed energy.
Local Clean Energy Initiative. The Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) is a non-profit organization that is funded by the City, County and EDA. The CCLEP action plan and mission is:
Engender community conversation about energy issues through public meetings, radio shows, newspaper articles, on-line postings, and a dedicated website.
Build and strengthen a network of interested parties to improve communication about, and increase coordination of, local energy projects.
Investigate feasibility of various energy efficiency and renewable energy production options specific to Cook County.
Gather, organize, and make available, information about energy issues.
Develop and maintain a website to make energy information easy to access and useful to our community.
Engage with local units of government to enact policies that enhance local energy efficiency and renewable energy development.
Encourage the establishment of a local energy industry by assisting local businesses and non-profits with their energy projects.
Develop, maintain and implement a county wide Energy Plan.Cook County Solar Guide - CCLEP developed a solar guide that provides educational guidance for how to install solar on residential and small businesses. The Solar Initiative Project is to raise awareness of the benefits of PV systems and to assist Cook County residents in evaluating options that work best for them.
In Cook County there is an average potential of producing 4.4 kWh per square meter per day from the sun. With the price of solar panel installation plummeting in the past few years to an all time low of about $3.75 per watt for roof installations (more for ground mount systems), solar has become an attractive option for generating electricity especially when the federal tax credit for solar systems is exercised.
Most Cook County residents are unaware how economically attractive PV systems have become and with a little over a year remaining on the federal tax credit for solar installations, CCLEP has identified an opportunity and need to establish a “path” of public information for Cook County citizens who want to consider installing solar systems.
There are a number of complications that can arise during the design and installation process. These need to be sorted out to reduce barriers and establish options for local solar development.
The Solar Initiative produced Going Solar: A Cook County Guide booklet and Solar Choices, a brochure. Both are available on the CCLEP website. Public workshops and tours are offered. They are based on the information in these publications and the experience of solar PV owners. To supplement the solar guide, CCLEP hosts local workshops promoting solar development and guiding interested parties through their question about solar.
Several times throughout the year, the City of Arlington includes articles within its monthly newsletter to inform residents on various green and energy saving initiatives. Topics include: Winter Energy Savings Tips; The City's Home Rebate Information for qualifying appliances, lighting fixtures and home energy audits; The City's renewable energy technology (as a member of MN Municipal Power Agency/MMPA); Water Savings Tips; Information about the City's renewable energy product called "Clean Energy Choice"; and Summer energy savings tips.
In March 2016, the City offered Energy Savings Kits to low-income residential customers. The kits included three LED bulbs, switch and outlet insulating sealers and a fridge/freezer thermometer. Then in April, the remaining 200 boxes (valued at $25/ea.) were offered on a first-come/first-serve basis to Arlington residential electric customers.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The desire is to offer continuous and up-to-date programming and education on energy saving initiatives.
(a picture of the Arlington Energy Savings Kit) is attached.)
BPU provides a nationally promoted $2 a watt ($4000 maximum) rebate on solar PV.
Residential incentives are provided in a joint effort with MN Power and 7 other utilities. These programs are promoted through bpu.org and the utility's monthly newsletter. BPU newsletters advertise the MyMeter conservation effort aimed at residents. https://mymeter.bpu.org/
The City of Detroit Lakes Public Utility offers a program for all customers to be 100% carbon-free. Bright Energy Choices is a “green energy” program that allows your customers to purchase renewable attributes from your utility in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). RECs are proof that electricity was generated by qualifying renewable facilities – like wind and solar farms – and fed into the electric grid. This program is promoted through social media, newspaper outlets and visitor guides.
The city hosted a community-wide campaign called the 'Edina Solar Power Hour Event Series' to help promote solar energy as an alternative, renewable source for businesses and residents to purchase or generate energy via solar. All community members having interest in solar were encouraged to attend the events to learn more about a group-buy campaign.
The event series was held in cooperation by the City of Edina and Grow Solar - Twin Cities, which is a program aimed at making solar energy both more affordable to residents, and easily accessible.
Through this event series, attendees were able to learn about the basics of solar, its financial benefits and the Grow Solar program. Following the conclusion of each session, property owners were given the opportunity to schedule a no-obligation site assessment and cost estimate, for free!
Elk River Municipal utilities has a Wind Power purchasing program where residents may purchase blocks of 100kwhs of wind power by adding $1 per block to their utility bills each month. It is currently promoted via fliers, through the ERMU newsletter, and via Project Conserve.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The most recent data shows that 269 customers purchased 632,000 kWhs of wind power in 2009.
The city of Maplewood has many different ways that they distribute information about renewable energy generation within the community. They have information on the website, in monthly newsletters, and in brochures available in some public building. With the roll-out of the Partners in Energy plan during May 2015, the city of Maplewood will be working with Xcel Energy to include energy saving tips within Xcel distributions such as newsletters and bill inserts. The Partners in Energy plan will also see home improvement stores in Maplewood, such as Home Depot and Menards, will host DIY workshops on a wide range of topics for Maplewood residents.
Maplewood continued its promotion of clean energy with Partners in Energy through 2016 and 2017 with the Home Energy Challenge and the Solar Top 40. The Solar Top 40 used the U of M solar analysis tool to identify solar potential for businesses and some residents. Maplewood also offered a Solar Power Hour in 2018 and 2019, which offers residents the opportunity to gain lower-cost solar installations through a group buy program.
Electricity for the City of Marshall is provided by Marshall Municipal Utilities which has various purchase power contracts in place. Renewable purchases for 2011 consisted of 10.25% wind energy and 19.7% hydro power. The City of Marshall has established Wind Energy Conversion System and Solar Ordinances, and Marshall Municipal Utilities has adopted a Distributed Generation Interconnection Workbook to provide guidance and direction to potential renewable energy systems in Marshall.
Marshall Municipal Utilities offers rebates for Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems.
A local business has installed a new 28.8 kW solar PV system on its new office building which has been highlighted in various ways.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Long term wind and hydro power contracts will provide the City of Marshall with renewable energy for many years. A new hydro electric power plant being built near Pella, Iowa will add additional hydro electric power to our resource mix beginning in 2016.
- North St. Paul Electric Utility offers rebates to residential customers who install qualifying ENERGY STAR® appliances including quality installed central air-conditioners and air-source heat pumps, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, CFL bulbs, and LED bulbs and fixtures. Rebates are also available when you recycle your refrigerator or freezer, tune-up your central air conditioner, or get a home energy audit. Applications are available online or may be picked up at the City Office.
- North St. Paul Electric Utility offers rebates to business customers who install energy efficient lighting, variable speed drives, and vending machine controllers. Applications are available online or may be picked up at the City Office.
- North St. Paul Electric Utility offers Green Power Choice which is a voluntary program offered to MMPA (Minnesota Municipal Power Agency) customers. The program currently offers Hydropower and Wind Power purchased from the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. Currently 100 households participate in the program and they purchased 339,600 kwh in a 12 month period.
-The City Promotes programs on the city website and is included in the City Newsletter. Programs are also promoted at City events such as the plant sale, Friday night car shows and other recreational events.
Shorewood is an Xcel Partners in Energy city. Through the program we have encouraged WindSource participation by residents, have promoted recycling of old appliances, have offered the 50% buydown on the price of home energy audits for 50 households, and continues to promote energy conservation and clean energy.
The City is really taking a proactive approach to promote solar energy use within the community. We have held meetings organized by a local group called Community Partners; the meeting included the City Administrator, the Mayor, the Electrical Supervisor, the City Planner, a representative from a Solar Energy dealer, and a representative from MN Power. The meeting were informational, but to encouraging sustainability within the community. We have a few people in town who already have solar power and have 3 this year so far who are looking to add solar panels. We are also going to include solar in terms of land use into our zoning code update.
The City of Bemidji has a display located in City Hall to showcase the green power purchasing programs offered by our local utilities, Otter Tail Power Company and Beltrami Electric Cooperative.
Otter Tail Power Company has a program called TailWinds and Beltrami Electric Cooperative offers Infinity Wind Energy. Brochures with information about how customers can utilize these programs are located in this display, along with other resources about local renewable energy, such as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) based in Pine River, MN.
Screening and fences may violate code if compliance would hinder the functioning of solar, wind, or geothermal energy generation (UDC 50-26.1). Wind and solar generation may also exceed building height limits (UDC 50-21.3).
Hutchinson Utilities Commission offers a green power purchasing program called "Bright Energy Choices". The program allows customers to purchase renewable energy certificates to offset a portion of your electricity that comes from fossil fuels and lowering your carbon footprint
The city has partnered with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) since 2013 to offer various commercial, non-profit, and rental improvement programs. Programs include Energy Savings Fund for Non-Profits, Commercial Energy Efficiency Loan Program, Energy Intelligence for Industry, One-Step Efficiency Shop Lighting Retrofits, and Existing Building Commissioning.
There are community members pursuing the installation of a community solar garden on the north end of the City. The City has been promoting and supporting this activity within the colleges. This article describes Northfield's progress with this project.
The City of White Bear Lake promotes green power purchasing programs on the city website. We will also begin to promote these in our annual spring environmentally focused newsletter, and through our social media sites.
The City of Minnetonka has participated in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Grow Solar Twin Cities program, a program that promotes on-site solar group buys for residents and businesses, since 2018 . As part of the program, the city hosts and promotes the event through social media, the Minnetonka Memo (a monthly news letter sent to all residential addresses within the city), email subscribers groups, city facility postings, etc.
The City does not keep track of homes that sign up for on-site solar as part of the program; however, the city does track the total number of solar permits pulled each year. In 2022, the city received 39 residential solar installation permits. This was an increase from the 20 received in 2021.