Northfield

City of Northfield takes steps to advance local clean energy

Implementing climate action planning efforts

Solar for Northfield

 

After adopting its climate action plan in 2019, the City of Northfield has taken steps to advance clean energy by implementing both solar and energy efficiency measures with support from a CERT Seed Grant.

Project lead Beth Kallestad shared details of the city’s progress including an assessment of on-site solar and outreach efforts to multi-family buildings that promote energy efficiency.

 

Through this project, we were able to dig into some of the climate action plan strategies and get a better sense of what level of effort would be needed.

Beth Kallestad, program coordinator at the City of Northfield

As part of its Solar for Northfield project, one of the primary activities the city undertook included working with paleBluedot LLC, a Maplewood-based climate and renewable energy consultancy, to develop and release a new report assessing on-site solar potential throughout the community.

“Through this project, we were able to dig into some of the climate action plan strategies and get a better sense of what level of effort would be needed,” said Beth Kallestad, program coordinator at the City of Northfield, who led the recent project with support from city staff and Energy Action Team volunteers.

Solar for Northfield

 

The Solar for Northfield report, released by paleBluedot LLC in partnership with the City of Northfield, details total rooftop generation and solar potential throughout Northfield and models future scenarios of solar installations in the community. It also provides an analysis of solar potential on City of Northfield government facilities.

This information helps the City of Northfield understand pathways to reach its climate action planning goal of 20 percent of total community electricity use from on-site renewables by 2040.

Access the report

 

The City of Northfield’s Climate Action Plan, which was officially adopted in 2019, includes a goal to meet 20 percent of total community electricity use with investments in on-site renewable electricity by 2040. The recent report builds on these planning efforts with a more detailed analysis of city-wide solar potential, feasibility, and benefits.

Kallestad described this work supported by a Southeast CERT seed grant as a “first step” in the city’s implementation of its climate goals.

We worked through the City’s current Partners in Energy program with Xcel Energy to use their toolkit on outreach.

Beth Kallestad, program coordinator at the City of Northfield

Energy assessment of multi-family buildings

In addition to exploring community-wide solar potential, the Southeast CERT seed grant helped the City of Northfield support energy efficiency investments through outreach to multi-family building owners and managers. The outreach raised awareness about an Xcel Energy program that provides no-cost energy assessments and project recommendations to these properties.

“We worked through the City’s current Partners in Energy program with Xcel Energy to use their toolkit on outreach to these properties,” Kallestad said. Flyers were distributed and city staff followed up with phone calls, explaining the program. Eleven properties in the community, all that provided affordable housing, were prioritized in the initial round of outreach.

“If [the building owners] chose to have analysis done, technicians would… evaluate the building and provide recommendations on energy-saving projects, rebates and support to carry out the projects,” Kallestad said.

 

LED-bulbs-Northfield-CAC-Veronica-Gamino.jpgPhoto caption: Veronica Gamino helps distribute LED bulbs to Northfield residents in partnership with the Community Action Center of Northfield.

 

While the project team intended to have more direct contact with building managers and residents during this portion of the project, they had to adjust their plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes things don’t work out as intended, so you adapt and respond as best you can,” Kallestad said.

This project has helped spur thinking with regard to how the City can support solar and renewable energy options for residents who can’t do their own solar or don’t qualify for standard community solar gardens.

Beth Kallestad, program coordinator at the City of Northfield

Next steps in local clean energy

Moving forward, the city plans to circle back with property owners and managers to evaluate the initial round of outreach and any clean energy investments that were made as a result. This work has also helped the City of Northfield think about other next steps that can help improve residents’ access to clean energy.

“This project has helped spur thinking with regard to how the City can support solar and renewable energy options for residents who can’t do their own solar or don’t qualify for standard community solar gardens,” Kallestad said.

As it moves forward, the City of Northfield will be organizing a community bulk solar purchase among residents and plans to continue connecting with property owners to support energy efficiency investments in the months and years ahead.

“This project allowed us to kick off implementation of our newly adopted Climate Action Plan and better understand what on-site solar in our community will look like,” Kallestad added.

Project Snapshot

 
  • Clean Energy Focus:  City-wide Solar Energy Potential Study and Outreach to Multifamily Properties for Energy Analyses and resident energy-efficiency
  • Central CERT Seed Grant: $3,000
  • Total Project Cost: $7,000
  • Other Funds: consultant in-kind contributions and City budget
  • Project Team: Beth Kallestad, City of Northfield; paleBLUEdot LLC; Energy Action Team
  • People Involved and Reached: 189
 
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