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CERTs wins Environmental Initiative Awards for clean energy cohorts

2020 Environmental
Initiative Awards


Environmental Initiative Awards celebrate the people and projects working in partnership at the nexus of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy, and an equitable society.

The 2020 recipients were announced today, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams and our many partners are honored to receive both of the awards in the Energy and Climate category for the Solar Possible and Cities Charging Ahead! efforts!


2020 Energy & Climate Project Winner: Solar Possible


Solar Possible is the first ever collaborative procurement process for solar on public buildings and lands in Minnesota aimed at overcoming clean energy barriers.

This effort was led by Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), Great Plains Institute, and the State of Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Sustainability for a joint Request for Proposals (RFP) for behind the meter solar installations on public facilities utilizing a third-party Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) financing model. Through this process, CERTs and its partners have built a robust set of tools for local governments and schools to utilize for procuring solar.

Eight local government entities participated in Solar Possible, resulting in four public entities installing 2 Megawatts of solar power over 11 individual sites, which in return avoided 1,804 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The Solar Possible initiative demonstrates an active commitment to fairness, justice, and equality with a 450kW solar array to be installed this summer at South St. Paul’s Kaposia Education Center, with its sizable low- and moderate-income student population. For schools involved in Solar Possible, the solar arrays will be incorporated in the schools’ STEM education for students to be exposed to the benefits of clean energy because CERTs believe that today’s students are tomorrow’s energy decision-makers.

Can we help you move forward with solar?

  • The Clean Energy Resource Teams are ready to provide technical assistance, tools, resources, and case studies for local governments and schools. CERTs can assist with site selection, RFP development, financial calculators and more. Visit our page for cities, counties, and tribal nations or get support for your school. Contact Peter Lindstrom to get started.
  • The State of Minnesota has developed a master contract with multiple pre-qualified solar developers. Local governments, schools and tribal nations can utilize the master contract. Contact Jordan Wente to learn more, and read a recent blog post for more about sustainable purchasing with the State.

By coming together, by collaborating, you’re learning together.

Peter Lindstrom, Manager, Public Sector & Community Engagement, Clean Energy Resource Teams

2020 Energy & Climate Project Honorary Mention: Cities Charging Ahead!


Cities Charging Ahead, a peer cohort of 27 cities and one sovereign nation led by the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), worked to explore and implement electric vehicle (EV) readiness strategies, including purchasing EVs, and installing charging infrastructure, across Minnesota.

Participating cities received technical assistance focused on actions and best practices, based on the GreenStep Cities program, that accelerated the adoption of electric vehicles and improved air quality by replacing internal combustion vehicles with EVs. This project created a suite of resources designed to help other local governments to educate and engage community members about EVs.

What did they accomplish?

  • 10 cities participated in fleet analyses for right-sizing and replacing vehicles with EVs
  • 12 cities purchased, leased, or plan to purchase a total of 21 EVs
  • 11 cities installed or plan to install a total of 27 charging stations, some powered by clean energy
  • 13 cities accomplished or are working on EV-ready development in the private sector

The dedication and engagement of Cities Charging Ahead participants was what made this project so successful. CCA was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on in my 27-year career.

Diana McKeown, Metro CERT Director at Great Plains Institute

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