See Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government (Office of the State Auditor: 2008), a best practices review of renewable energy case studies. Elk River is notable, being known as Energy City since 1997, showcasing efficient and renewable energy products, services, and technologies.
The MN Division of Energy Resources operates the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program for cities to lock in verifiable ongoing energy savings through performance contracting of deep retrofits - including renewable energy systems, particularly if bundled with sufficient low-cost, short-term payback improvements - without capital appropriations. GESP is most appropriate, as a rule of thumb, for situations including at least one of the following: city utility bills are around $150,000 or more; possible project cost is around $350,000 or more; city population is around 10,000 or more. Though complex, GESP financing is easier than utilizing/creating financing vehicles such as green banks.
Renewable Energy and Schools (Minnesota Renewable Energy Society: 2011), a step-by-step guide for evaluating, acquiring, installing, promoting, and using renewable energy systems in K-12 schools.
See also resources under action 26.6. Note that starting in June 2019 the Great Plains Institute will work with a group of cities - the Renewable Energy Procurement Network - interested in increasing access to renewable energy.
Describe any public sector project and report installed capacity in kW. Report city purchase of green tags, community solar garden subscriptions, and 3rd party solar under action 15.2; report wastewater biogas projects under 20.6; solid waste anaerobic digestion under 22.5; geothermal under 1.7; brightfield projects under 25.5
Install at least two different RE technologies and report installed capacity in kW; report municipal utility ownership; report city council direction to its muni (via board appointments, annual goals/reports/funding) to accelerate work on city clean energy goals; show that a RE installation has shaved off peak energy demand and allowed the monthly utility demand charge to be decreased; report installed battery storage.
Install RE capacity in excess of 100 kW; report combined heat and power generation, parking lot PV canopies, pollinator habitat under a PV array.
Who's doing it
Brainerd - 3 star
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Brainerd Public Utility has an 8.9 KW rooftop solar unit at their offices. The city also owns and operates a 3.3 Megawatt Hydro facility.
Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa - 3 star
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In 2016, a one megawatt ground mounted solar PV project was installed to provide power to Black Bear Casino and resort. At peak irradiance, this project can meet 50% of Black Bear's energy needs.
A 1.7MMbtu biomass boiler was constructed at the Sawyer community center. Self sourced woodchips replace 88% of the center's propane use which is the most common heating source in Fon du Lac.
A new resource management building was constructed in 2010 which along with being the first LEED certified building in Carleton County, features a 12.25 kilowatt solar PV array.
A 3kw solar electric system was installed at the Ojibwe School Pow Wow grounds.
Renewables are meeting a small but growing percentage of Fon du Lac's energy needs and in addition to building retrofitting and reducing our total energy use, have helped to reduce our use of fossil fuels by almost 40% since 2007. In 2007, the reservation business committee signed an accord to reduce our use of fossil fuels by 20% by 2020, which we have surpassed.
In November of 2015, the City of Hutchinson completed construction on a 400 kW solar array on a municipally owned brownfield (see Best Practice Action 20.5). The array is hooked into the City’s wastewater treatment facility where it provides a portion of the plants electricity. The project was partially funded by an Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund grant and developed by Amaresco. The panels are tenK solar panels and were installed by Hunt Electric.
Marshall Municipal Utilities entered into a joint partnership with its wholesale power provider and a private developer to construct 18.7 MW of wind generation near Marshall in 2007. The 9 wind turbines generation output is fed directly into MMUs distribution system.
Annual kWh production from the 9 turbines is approximately 62,640,000 kWhs, enough energy to power about 5,800 homes per year. Marshall Municipal utilities has a 20 year contract in place to receive a portion of the turbines output.
Capture the Energy is an award winning renewable energy program that was developed by Moorhead Public Service to promote all forms of renewable energy. Capture the Energy programs include:
1) Wind Turbines: Each wind turbine (2 – Zepher and Freedom) are rated at 750 kilowatts (kW) and produce approximately 1,500,000 kilowatthours (kWh) of energy per year. Generation of electricity starts at a wind speed of 8 mph.
2) Solar Demonstration Project: The solar photovoltaic (PV) modules convert sunlight directly into electricity. The electricity is converted from direct current electricity (DC) to alternating current (AC) electricity and is then injected into the electrical distribution grid. Solar PV Modules (Size 3’x5’/Rated at .220 kW). Solar Arrays (Size 12’x20’, Rated at 3.52 kW)- Vertical and horizontal [dual axis] tracking capability, 16 solar PV modules per solar array, Total generation of all three arrays equals 10.56 kW, designed to withstand 90 mph winds and one-inch hail.
The Capture the Energy Participant program allows residents and businesses to contribute financially to support wind and solar energy to examine, educate, and promote other viable renewable energy technologies locally.
The City installed a Wind generator at the Public Works Facility. North St. Paul is one of 11 Minnesota cities to have a wind turbine to create clean, renewable electricity under the “Hometown WindPower” program.
The Hometown WindPower turbine has a capacity of 160 kilowatts.
A Solar Initiative was adopted by the City Council in 2015. Since then, 4 solar arrays have been constructed on City property. A biofuel recovery project was completed at the St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Facility.
438,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity are being generated from the 4 installed solar arrays. The biofuel recovery project will generate 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.
Via a grant from MMPA, a 160 kW wind turbine was built in the City's northeast industrial park.
Via a 2016 grant from MMPA a 5kW solar panel will be installed at the Sibley East High School. The Grant allows MMPA to teach youth first-hand about how sunlight is converted into electricity, and the unique characteristics of solar power. The solar panels are proposed to be placed on the south side of the Arlington building along the pool wall which would serve as an outdoor classroom. The panels will produce five kilowatts of electricity which is enough to power 10-12 classrooms.
In addition to providing local and renewable energy, these turbines and solar panels help community members learn about the benefits and operating characteristics of wind and solar power.
The City has installed a Vestas 660kW wind turbine on the outskirts of town. It is used both as a power source and as a demonstration site for Energy City.
Elk River Municipal Utilities also owns and operates a Landfill Gas-to-Electricity Power Plant at the Elk River Landfill. The facility harvests the methane produced by the decomposing waste to produce 3.2 MegaWatts of electricity, or enough power for over 2000 Elk River homes.
The Vestas wind generator puts out about 950,000 kWhs per year, or about 0.38% of Elk River's energy usage.
The Landfill Gas Power Plant puts out about 27,000,000 kWhs power year, or about 11% of Elk River's energy usage.
City Solar Installation. Gunflint Hills Solar is a public solar installation at the City-owned golf course. This project was a partnership between the City of Grand Marais, Cook County, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) and CCLEP.
Gunflint Hills Solar was installed during the fall of 2012 with a monitoring system installed in the fall of 2013. Average energy production is approximately 750 - 800 kWh per month which is enough electricity to power 2-3 typical homes without electric heat. The system has a 7.41 kilowatt, pole-mounted, grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system with these components:
Thirty-nine 190-watt panels by Silicon Energy
MOUNTS multi-pole single axis tracker
3 & 5-kilowatt Power One Aurora Inverters
A two directional meter
A monitoring system
Output is posted to the CCLEP website and is updated monthly at http://www.cookcountylocalenergy.org/groups/solar/gunflint-hills-solar
The system in "grid tied" meaning the electricity from the solar panels flows into the electrical grid that carries the electricity throughout the county. Savings to date are 25,000 kW-hrs, $3,050 and 26.2 tons of CO2. The meter at the Clubhouse can spin two directions depending on panel output and Clubhouse use. Any excess goes into the grid and is credited on the City of Grand Marais' electrical bill from provider Arrowhead Cooperative.
City Campground Solar Thermal - A five-panel solar hot water system was installed on Bathhouse #4 in the City campground in 2011.
The City in 2017 has approved to install a Solar Panel in Highland Park that will tap into our electrical system. The City of Granite Falls is a electric utility provider. The City further will be selling solar subscriptions to residents who wish to partake in green energy. They City also has a Hydro-Electric Plant.
The city of Edina received a 2011 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) The grant was used to install a 24 KW photovoltaic solar system on City Hall. The project was approved at the 10-4-11 City Council meeting and was installed by 1-1-12. The solar panels save approximately $1,300/yr on energy costs.
The City, along with Ideal Energies, will be constructing a 40 KW solar array to provide to City Hall and a 40 KW solar array for the Public Works Facility. Contracts have been signed and engineering has begun on the project.
Conservative estimated savings are $250,000 over the life of the array.
In 2015 Golden Valley added two photo voltaic arrays on public buildings that were funded through partnerships with the Made in Minnesota Solar program and power purchasing agreements with New Energy Equity (NEE). The Public Safety Building has a 40 kW capacity grid and the Park Maintenance Building has a 40 kW capacity grid both owned and operated by Sundial Solar. The City buys power from Sundial at a rate that is lower than what is offered by Xcel Energy ($0.085/kWh as opposed to $0.11/kWh). In the event that there is excess energy, it is pumped into the Xcel power grid and the City receives a credit on its monthly Xcel statement. The reduction in carbon emissions resulting from these arrays is helping the City meet its goals as outlined in the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.
In 2016 the City committed to installing two additional solar projects: a 40 kW capacity grid on the Utility Maintenance Building and a 40 kW capacity grid on the Streets Maintenance Building. Both arrays will be maintained and operated by Sundial Solar. The systems are expected to fulfil 75% of the Utility Maintenance Building’s power and 100% of the Streets Maintenance Building’s power.
In 2016, the total energy production of the two solar arrays combined was 86,300 kWh, diverting approximately 60.6 metric tons of Carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
Energy from solar was able to account for 13.63% of the Public Safety building's energy use, and 100% of the Parks Maintenance building's energy use.
In 2016, both solar arrays saved the City a total of $3,499.95 (an average of about $291 per month).
Underway: MN Office of Energy Security PV Solar Project- Local Government Renewable Energy Grant. A solar-panelt Project will be installed on City Hall. Payback for the City-portion of the project will be about 12 years. To be completed July 2011.
In Maplewood, there are three locations that have had solar cells installed as of 2019. The locations include the Nature Center, the Community Center, and City Hall The solar photovoltaic electrical systems installed by the City of Maplewood include two systems of approximately 39.96 kilowatts in nameplate capacity and a third that produces approximately 47,600 kWh annually. One of the systems is located on the rooftop of the city-owned Community Center building at 2100 White Bear Avenue in Maplewood, one is a solar awning on the south side of the Nature Center at 2659 E 7th St., and the other system is ground-mounted on a site adjacent to City Hall at 1830 County Road B East in Maplewood. All systems are grid connected through an agreement with Xcel Energy as the local utility provider, which also provided Solar Rewards and Made-in Minnesota Bonus rebates for the project. The energy produced by these photovoltaic panels is recorded within the cities B3 software.
The city of Maplewood also entered into a 25-year subscription to community solar in 2016. The City subscribed to 856,290 kWh, which is approximately 34 percent of the City's overall electrical use. The solar garden is located in Scandia, MN.
As part of an Energy Saving Partnership with Trane, the City of Mounds View installed photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on top of City Hall and the Mounds View Community Center. The total installed capacity is 80kW between these two facilities. Generation statistics are displayed at each of these facilities via a monitor in the entry way. The city has realized savings based on this installed capacity since September 2016.
Pine River-based Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) partnered with CERTs and Cass County to install solar-powered furnaces at the solid waste transfer station in Pine River. -Reported 3/8/11
RREAL solar hot air panel installed on the City of Pine River Ice Rink Warming Shed. 2/12
During 2013, the City of Red Wing began to install two solar panels at its Fire Station and Solid Waste Campus. An additional four solar panels were installed over the course of 2014. These solar electric projects will have an expected life of 40 years and are estimated to produce approximately $2,250,000.00 of electricity in that time. The total cost for all six projects will be $1,906,654.00. The cost for the City of Red Wing’s portion of these projects will be $166,753.00 or 9%. The remaining expenses were paid for with grants from Xcel Energy & the State of Minnesota, and financing investment from Newport Partners, LLC.
These 6 solar panels produce 240,000 kWh over the course of the year which is approximately 3.6% of the City’s operational electrical consumption for the 2015 year.
Throughout 2018, the City of Richfield pursued alternative energy opportunities available for improving municipal energy supply, culminating in the installation of several solar arrays at the end of the year. The contractor, iDeal Energies, installed 6 solar arrays (3 20 kw and 3 40 kw) on several public buildings, including liquor stores, Public Works, the pool, and ice arena. The city has the option to purchase the arrays after 14 years, during which the city will pay Green 2 Solar for electricity per a reduced rate on every Xcel bill. There is guaranteed savings or net zero on energy costs. Wood Lake Nature Center also has a 7 panel array, in operation for over 10 years, which produces 1 kw a year or 10% of the building's energy usage.
The City of Royalton received the Local Government Renewable Energy Grant from the Office of Energy Secutiry to install a 7.5kw solar panel system on the roof of its city hall. The system is now fully operational and we can track the number of KWH produced by the panels. We will monitor and report to our citizens on a monthly basis starting in January 2012
We track the number of KWH produced on a monthly basis. We found that the inverter was not working and are having it replaced/repaired (May 7, 2012)
Geothermal is installed in City Hall, Public Safety, and the Bielenberg Sports Center (BSC). A 40 kW solar array is installed at the city’s Public Safety Building. City staff is also working on a contract to install a solar array at the existing Bielenberg Sports Center, in addition to a planned PV system on the new field house at BSC (to be completed in 2014).