Big energy ideas from Warren's 1,574 residents

November 2022

Located in northwest Minnesota, Warren — population 1,574 — is a town that doesn’t believe in sitting idle when it comes to imagining what its future might be. 

The county seat for Marshall County, Warren teamed up with an assortment of partners to create the Design for Community Regeneration (D4CR) as a way to plan their resilient future. Supported by the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the City of Warren, and the Minnesota Design Center, D4CR imagines a thriving and equitable future for Warren. The project tackles food, water, and energy securities while increasing economic opportunities, social cohesion, and uncovering affordable housing options.

A CERTs Seed Grant helped the city dig deep into the energy security aspects. 

“This (CERTs) grant was just the right funding at the right time to complement and extend the D4CR Warren project with the detailed analysis and recommendations needed to bring the project to the next stage.” 

Shannon R. Mortenson, City Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer

Getting input from the people of Warren was crucial.

A poster detailing the plan was shared at an outdoor concert series with 150 attendees, at City Hall, and on the city’s Facebook page which had nearly 1000 views and more than 100 interactions. But they didn’t stop there.

“The Marshall County Fair had the display for four days,” Mortenson noted. “There were numerous people who stopped and interacted with the booth. The number of people seeing the booth was close to 5,000 for the total event.”

The project enlisted paleBLUEdot to develop their Clean Energy Independence Plan. Warren has municipal-owned electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, and sanitation, so plenty of data was readily available. 


The plan identified the carbon footprint of the existing utilities and potential projects to achieve carbon reductions including renewable energy projects and energy storage options.

Next steps being considered include developing a city resolution template that officially establishes a goal of clean energy independence for Warren. The team is also considering how to retain or purchase renewable energy credits, also known as RECs, to make sure that renewable projects in the city will retain their greenhouse gas reduction value for the city’s climate goals. 

“It does not matter the size of the city, we all need to learn and replicate plans to have any measurable impact. My advice would be to encourage a process like this for a city to develop an Energy Action Plan.” 

Shannon R. Mortenson, City Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer

Clean Energy Focus: Clean Energy Independence Plan


Northwest CERT Seed Grant: $5,000


Other Funds Leveraged: paleBLUEdot consultant in-kind labor


People Involved and Reached: 6,162

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