Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 26.2

GreenStep City Best Practices: Resilient Economic and Community Development
Renewable Energy No. 26

Remove barriers to and encourage installation of renewable energy generation capacity.

Best Practice Action 2

Promote resident/business purchases and/or generation of clean energy by:

a. A local/municipal utility's green power purchasing program that allows residents/businesses to order/buy new renewable energy.
b. Making residents/businesses aware of available community solar subscriptions.
c. Creating and sharing a map of the community’s solar resource and/or linking to the Minnesota Solar Suitability App.
d. Connecting residents/businesses with the Clean Energy Project Builder for potential installers.

  • The Clean Energy Project Builder is a tool to find clean energy installers or solar garden available in your area.
  • Wondering if a particular site in Minnesota is good for solar energy? The MN Solar App lets you enter an address to see a site's solar potential.
  • See campaign materials to assist citizens in purchasing green power.
  • Minnesota electrical utilities, while no longer required to offer their customers the opportunity to purchase renewably generated energy, 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.
  • The Midwest Renewable Energy Society (MRES) provides information about Solar Group Buys
  • Solar United Neighbors of Minnesota provides information about solar co-ops and bulk buys
  • In 2014 the U.S. EPA set benchmarks for aggressive but achievable levels of renewable energy use by all users within a city, suggesting 20% renewables for community electricity use up to 1 million kWh, 10% up to 10 M kWh, and 5% up to 100 M.
  • Find local, state and federal financial resources and incentives from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
1 star 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 subcribed along with the number of participating households.
2 star 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.
3 star Be recognized as an EPA Green Power Community, or report installed capacity as a result of a city-supported campaign.

Who's doing it

Cottage Grove - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ryan Burfeind (City staff) | rburfeind@cottage-grove.org | 651-458-2899
Partners:
Golden Valley - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
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.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Cheryl Weiler (City staff) | cweiler@goldenvalleymn.gov | 763-593-8004
Partners:
Grand Marais - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor) | shane.w.steele@gmail.com | 507-884-5790
Partners:
Arlington - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.)
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Liza Donabauer (City staff) | ldonabauer@arlingtonmn.com | 507-964-2378
Partners: MMPA
Brainerd - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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/
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mark Ostgarden (City staff) | mostgarden@ci.brainerd.mn.us | 218-828-2309
Partners:
Elk River - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff) | ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov | 763-635-1068
Partners:
Maplewood - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shann Finwall (City staff) | shann.finwall@maplewoodmn.gov | 651-249-2304
Partners: Xcel Energy
Marshall - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mark Antony (City staff) | MarkA@marshallutilities.com | (507) 537-7005
Partners: Marshall Municipal Utilities
North Saint Paul - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
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Implementation details:
- 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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Keith Stachowski (City staff) | Keith.Stachowski@northstpaul.org | 651-747-2423
Partners: Minnesota Municipal Power Agency
Rosemount - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In addition to providing information on the City's website about purchasing clean energy, information was also included on an insert sent with the City water bill regarding energy reduction efforts.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Anthony Nemcek (City staff) | anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us | 651-322-2090
Partners:
Shorewood - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Moore (City staff) | jmoore@ci.shorewood.mn.us | 952-960-7906
Partners: Xcel Energy
Bemidji - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Michelle Miller (City staff) | michelle.miller@ci.bemidji.mn.us | 218-759-3561
Partners:
New Hope - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jeff Alger (City staff) | jalger@ci.new-hope.mn.us | 763-531-5119
Partners:
Newport - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2012
Implementation details:
The City regularly puts articles in its quarterly newsletter about being sustainable. This information is also available on the City's website.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Deb Schulz (City staff) | dschulz@newportmn.com | 651-459-5677
Partners:
Northfield - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Beth Kallestad (City staff) | beth.kallestad@ci.northfield.mn.us | 507-645-3074
Partners: GNSC
White Bear Lake - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Connie Taillon (City staff) | ctaillon@whitebearlake.org | 651-429-8564
Partners:
Duluth - Pending
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2010
Implementation details:
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).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Adam Fulton (City staff) | afulton@hermantownmn.com | 218-729-3618
Partners:
Elko New Market - Pending
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city is in serious consideration of a community solar garden at this time (01/15/16).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mark Nagel (City staff) | mnagel@ci.enm.mn.us | 952-461-2777
Partners:
Ely - Pending
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
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Implementation details:
There is a possibility of a solar energy project that would allow residents to purchase solar from one location.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
Partners: