Eight communities are receiving 2016 Minnesota Clean Energy Community Awards from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The program recognizes communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. The eight awardees and their clean energy efforts are summarized below.
City of Hutchinson
Clean Energy Generation: Capped Landfill Solar Development
In November 2015, the City of Hutchinson completed construction of a 400 kW solar array constructed on a capped landfill. The array is the first of its kind in Minnesota and will be a model for ushering in the solar revolution in Minnesota while minimizing environmental impacts of solar arrays.
City of Minneapolis
Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership
The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) is a new approach that partners the City of Minneapolis in a unique way with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, its electric and gas utilities, to help the City reach its Climate Action Plan and Energy Vision for 2040 goals of 30% greenhouse gas reduction by 2025 and 80% reduction by 2050. The CEP is a collaborative leadership framework through which the City and utilities study, prioritize, plan, coordinate, implement, market, track, and report progress on clean energy activities in the City.
City of Morris
The Morris Model: Catalyzing Community Resilience, Energy Conservation and Clean Energy Planning and Action
Over the past 12 months, the City of Morris has launched several complementary initiatives with diverse partners to incorporate clean energy and conservation goals into its overall community planning efforts. These efforts were developed in close partnership with the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM). We have also worked with local partners (Stevens County, Horizons Public Health, SW- RSDP) and statewide collaborators (Eutectics, LLC, Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams, Institute on the Environment, Jefferson Center, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy). In particular, there are three main planning and commitment efforts that highlight Morris’s approach. The City calls it “the Morris Model.”
City of St. Cloud
City of St. Cloud’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Initiative (REEI)
The City’s Wastewater Utility’s Resource Recovery and Energy Efficiency master planning efforts in 2014 was the catalyst that developed into identifying citywide renewable energy and efficiency opportunities. There is a paradigm shift occurring in the wastewater treatment industry. Treatment facilities are now considered resource recovery facilities. Everything that enters a treatment facility can be reused or converted into a resource. Examples include extracting the phosphorus from the wastewater to be used as a fertilizer and capturing the biogas generated during the treatment process to be used as a fuel source to generate electricity. These initiatives are included in the current Resource Recovery and Energy Efficiency Master Plan. These efforts transpired into the City’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Initiative that looked at opportunities that could be implemented citywide and communitywide. This initiative includes: 2015 Solar Initiative, 2015-16 Wastewater Energy Efficiency & Biogas (E2B) Project, 2016 Street Light Improvement Project (SLIP), and the development of a communitywide Energy Action Plan thorough Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy Program.
Minnesota Air National Guard, 133 AW
Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings and Infrastructure
The Minneapolis, Minnesota Air National Guard is a long-standing leader within the Air National Guard and the local community when it comes to optimizing facility energy efficiency. While executing federal and state missions, the base decreased their total annual energy intensity (KBTU per square feet) by 40% from 2003 to 2015; it decreased their total annual water intensity (GAL per square feet) by nearly 50% from 2007 to 2015. They have accomplished these impressive reductions through a comprehensive strategy that includes local policy, community partnership, user education, and replicable technical initiatives including retro-commissioning, high efficiency system upgrades, submetering, and HVAC controls. They were the most engaged Air National Guard base nationwide for 2015 Energy Action Month, because they place a continual effort on reducing their facility energy intensity. Going forward, the base is working toward 25% energy intensity reduction from 2015 to 2025 and a continued water intensity decrease. Results include saving tax-payer money, decreased reliance on power supply (and therefore more capable to support missions during commercial power outages), and of course cleaner air.
Chisago County Clean Energy Hub
The Chisago County Clean Energy Hub is a citizen-driven, countywide initiative to advance clean energy economic development across the Chisago County, with a focus on energy efficiency and solar energy projects. Community leaders have identified clean energy as a prime economic development strategy aligned with the region’s significant natural resources. The Chisago County Clean Energy Hub is a partnership between Chisago County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – Economic Development Authority (HRA-EDA), the Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the Chisago Lakes America’s Best Communities competition group, Metro Clean Energy Resource Teams (Metro CERTs), and Eutectics. The Hub’s goal is to facilitate at least $40 million in direct project investment, above and beyond the 134 MW of utility-scale and community solar garden projects currently in development in the County. Hub activities are focused on under-served market segments, including: Main Street businesses and small- and medium-sized nonprofit organizations; small- and medium- sized public buildings; multifamily properties, and single-family residences across Xcel Energy, rural cooperative and municipal utility service territories.
Cities of Pelican Rapids and Fergus Falls
Targeting Energy Efficiency in Wastewater Treatment Plants
The City of Pelican Rapids and the City of Fergus Falls both renovated their wastewater treatment plants by pairing energy-efficient upgrades with rebates available through Otter Tail Power Company’s Conservation Improvement Program.
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Minnesota Solutions to Energy Poverty
This initiative will deploy the first 100% low-income community solar installation in the State of Minnesota, and the first community solar installation in the nation on Tribal Lands. The installation will further provide a unique capacity-building occasion to support training and renewable employment opportunities for Leech Lake Band members. Select construction trades trainees will obtain their Registered Unlicensed Electrician license and receive hands-on training in solar installations, positioning them for a growing number of clean energy job opportunities across the state and beyond. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is collaborating on this effort with the grantee, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL). A 501©(3) nonprofit that has been advancing the use of solar energy to address low-income fuel poverty for over 15 years, RREAL has been removing barriers to participation in the renewable energy market by delivering solar energy systems to low-income people and communities. RREAL’s mission is to provide a permanent and renewable solution to the ongoing problem of energy poverty in the United States. RREAL has served hundreds of low-income families.