Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 26.4

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 4

Support a community solar garden or help community members participate in a community renewable energy project by:

a. Serving as a host site for a community solar garden.
b. Facilitating development, by the municipal utility or other entity, of a community solar garden that ensures accessibility and availability to low-income residents.
c. Report city government community solar garden subscriptions, green tag purchases and 3rd party solar purchases under action 15.2.

  • Like a community garden, or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription arrangement, Community Shared Solar or Community Solar Gardens (which are the same thing) specifically refer to projects whereby subscribers (financial supporters: at least 5) receive an electricity bill credit (of no more than 120% of their average usage) for the electricity generated at one centrally-located photovoltaic panel installation (in the subscriber's county or adjacent county) in proportion to the size of their subscription. See the Local Government Community Solar Toolkit on the web page above, and see voluntary native vegetation and habitat management practices for the footprint of solar installations.
  • Cities can work with their county Community Action program and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in Backus, MN to redirect Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) dollars to a local community solar garden that provides renewable electricity to participating low-income community subscribers at a cost-savings to LIHEAP and subscribers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1 star Describe how the city supported a bulk-buy program of RE components (for residents, city employees, or employees of a business) or facilitated development of a solar garden to ensure purchases by low-income residents; report number of participants, installed capacity in kW and cost data. Report city government subscriptions to a community solar garden under action 15.2; report brightfield projects under 25.5
2 star Describe the city's role in a Community Solar Garden project (leasing roof space, providing guidance for pollinator habitat on the site, etc.).
3 star Describe a deeper role the city/municipal utility played in creating a Solar Garden, e.g., subscribing municipal utility customers, donated city land, work with your county Community Action program to redirect LIHEAP dollars to a local community solar garden.

Who's doing it

Detroit Lakes - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Starting in 2017, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities offers participation in a community solar garden. The City owned, operated, and maintained solar panels make it easy for businesses and residents to purchase renewable energy generation. In January of 2020, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities will offer 100% renewable energy purchases through its Bright Energy Choices program.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Bridget Penton (City Staff) | bpenton@cityofdetroitlakes.com | 218-846-7133
Partners:
Granite Falls - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
City is partnering with CMPAS/SMMPA for a solar project in Owatanna MN. The power generated will be sold to Granite Falls residents as solar subscriptions for a form of green energy.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
Partners:
Moorhead - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Capture The Sun® is the program at Moorhead Public Service (MPS) that is associated with MPS’ Community Solar Garden Projects.

A “community solar garden” is a collection of solar panels shared with customers who are unable to install and maintain a solar panel system of their own, such as customers with shaded roofs and those who have structures not suitable for solar panels.

MPS' Community Solar Garden is located between MPS’ two Capture The Wind® turbines in north Moorhead.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Dan Mahli (City staff) | dan.mahli@cityofmoorhead.com | 218-299-5314
Partners:
Winona - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City of Winona will be subscribing to a Community Solar Garden through SolarStone
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
John Howard (City staff) | jhoward@ci.winona.mn.us | 507-457-8273
Partners:
Arlington - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In coordination with MMPA, the City of Arlington rolled out its Clean Energy Choice program. Arlington’s supplier, MMPA, will provide 1 kWh from its Oak Glen Wind Farm, Hometown BioEnergy, or Hometown Wind to the power grid for each kWh that is purchased. At this time, our residential customers can purchase renewable, sustainable energy for a premium of just $0.0175 per kWh for their actual household usage. (If you use 750 kWh/month, that’s an additional $13 per month on your utility bill.)
Outcome measures/metrics:
Participation in this program is voluntary and on a month-to-month basis. There are no contracts to sign, and no long-term commitment.

Since inception in early 2015, 1% of Arlington's customers have signed up for the service.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Annie Shotliff (City staff) | ashotliff@arlingtonmn.com | 507-964-2378
Partners: MMPA
Grand Marais - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
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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.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor) | shane.w.steele@gmail.com | 507-884-5790
Partners:
Oakdale - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
Oakdale supported bringing the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's successful bulk purchase program to Minnesota in 2018. The Solar Twin Cities program allows residents and businesses across the Twin Cities area the opportunity to aggregate their solar purchase power to achieve program milestones that result in rebates that make solar more affordable for participants. Oakdale hosted two Solar Power Events at City Hall to allow residents and non-residents alike the opportunity to learn about what solar power is, and how they can participate in the bulk buy program. There was also an opportunity for residents to have their utility bills analyzed by the Citizen's Utility Board, and education on energy efficiency from Center for Energy and Environment. Oakdale will host future cycles of the Solar Twin Cities program as available.
Outcome measures/metrics:
In this initial offering, Solar Twin Cities secured solar installations totaling 261.84 kW worth of capacity in 35 locations across the metro area.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jen Hassebroek (City staff) | jen.hassebroek@ci.oakdale.mn.us | 651-730-2723
Partners: Midwest Renewable Energy Association; Center for Energy and Environment; Citizen's Utility Board
Saint Peter - Pending
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
SOLARCHOICE is a city of Saint Peter program. This community solar is a way to benefit from solar without installing it on the rooftop of properties. Saint Peter now has a Community Solar Garden with thousands of panels. This is an easy way to join the solar movement at a level that is affordable to the people. It allows users/customers the opportunity to gain a level of price certainty by locking in the cost of a portion of future energy usage.
While only 25% of rooftops are suitable for solar installations, community solar provides an equitable way to allow those want more solar to get it without impacting those who do not.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Kayode Adiatu (City Staff) | adminintern@saintpetermn.gov | 5074695316
Partners: