The Metropolitan Council, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), and their partners are being awarded for their innovative solar garden work at the 25th Anniversary Environmental Initiative Awards. The awards program, hosted by the nonprofit Environmental Initiative, annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary outcomes by harnessing the power of partnership. The project is being honored in the Community Action category.
The Governmental Solar Garden Collaborative is a joint effort by and for 31 local governments in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region to procure solar garden subscriptions from a single Request for Proposals (RFP) process to offset the energy usage at public facilities. Twenty-four participants said that they were moving to sign subscription agreements for a cumulative 33 megawatts of solar capacity. In 2015, Minnesota generated 35 megawatts for community solar subscriptions total.
“By working together and sharing resources, the partners could reduce costs, create opportunities for communities of all sizes, and make a larger impact than any organization could have had alone. The result will be the development of 33 megawatts of solar electricity– enough to power over 4,000 Minnesota homes for 25 years– and a significant reduction of government spending on energy in public facilities,” said Trevor Drake, co-director of the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team and project manager at Great Plains Institute.
Because of this effort, the group is continuing conversations concerning additional collaborative purchasing for public building solar and electric vehicles for local government fleets.
“This project represents the lasting benefit that partnership can have when it’s fundamental to a process. Gaining 33 megawatts of solar capacity is a tremendous accomplishment, but the relationships created, and the potential for continued impact, is just as important,” said Mike Harley, executive director of Environmental Initiative.