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Hooray for Hutchinson! Meet the Energy & Climate Winners

April 18th, 2017

The Energy and Climate category award is given to a partnership that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, cuts energy consumption, advances energy efficiency, or improves air quality. It’s projects like these that prepare our state to adapt to a changing global climate.

The City of Hutchinson, Ameresco, Xcel Energy and many more partners came together in a cross-sector partnership to do just that. Through this solar project, the City reduced emissions in their community, making a better quality of life for residents and our planet. Not only is this project innovative and groundbreaking, it transformed one of Minnesota’s brown areas blue. Join us in congratulating these project partners!

A FIRST FOR MINNESOTA

 

Made possible by a generous Renewable Development Fund grant from Xcel Energy, The City of Hutchinson Landfill Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System is a 400-kilowatt system supplying 15% of the power needs of the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. This project is the largest solar PV installation on a landfill in Minnesota, and the first ballast-mounted on a brownfield.

In layman’s terms, not only was this mounted and installed in an innovative way, it also transformed a landfill into something restorative that gives back to the community in cost savings, and to the state in environmental benefit. As a result of repurposing a 1970s-era municipal landfill, the City reduced CO2 emissions by 1.4 million pounds per year, roughly the equivalent of taking 133 vehicles off the road each year.

FROM THE PROJECT PARTNERS

“The City of Hutchinson was able to make Minnesota’s first landfill mounted Solar PV project possible through strong partnerships with Xcel Energy, AMERESCO, Hutchinson Utilities, tenKsolar, Hunt Electric, and many more,” said Hutchinson Mayor Gary Forcier. “Being recognized by Environmental Initiative for this project affirms the importance of this unique collaboration and that our City’s commitment to innovation can foster resounding benefits to our residents as well as others across the state and region.”

“The electrical energy produced by the solar panels provides enough dollar savings such that the project is guaranteed to pay for itself in less than 18 years, and with an estimated life of over 30 years; the City and residents will receive all the financial benefits in future years.” —John Neville, AMERESCO

CELEBRATE THIS EFFORT

Join us on Thursday, May 25 to congratulate and celebrate these project partners, their positive environmental outcomes, and the lasting benefit of collaboration. To shake things up, we’re also honoring three individuals in honor of our 25th anniversary, so it’s sure to be a night of reflection and festivities for Minnesota’s environmental community. Purchase your tickets or tables here »

 

 

 


A note from Environmental Initiative:
In honor of Environmental Initiative’s 25th Anniversary, four organizational and two individual awards will be presented on May 25, 2017 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Get your tickets before they’re gone »

Damian Goebel

POSTED BY:

Communications Director

Have you met the Community Action category winners?

April 13th, 2017

The Community Action category award is given to partnerships that solve environmental challenges on a community scale—which can mean a lot of things. From grassroots efforts and utilizing volunteers, to policy initiatives that contribute to improved quality of life, this award recognizes those who come together.

The Metropolitan Council, the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTs), a slew of local governments, and many more project partners came together to produce solid environmental and economic outcomes—making them this year’s Community Action winner.

An Award-Winning Effort

 

 

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. The goal in getting these subscriptions is to offset the energy usage at public facilities.

The results? Twenty-four of the 31 participants said that they were moving to sign subscription agreements for a cumulative 33 megawatts of solar capacity. If you’re like me, you have no idea what this means.

Basically, most participating local governments are working to offset public facility energy use by signing up for a clean energy alternative. By doing so, these local governments have added a surprising figure of solar capacity to the state. To give you an idea of how meaningful 33 megawatts is, Minnesota generated a total of 35 megawatts for community solar subscriptions during the entirety of 2015.

Perhaps more importantly, this project highlights the power of partnership—and its lasting benefit. Because of this effort, the group is continuing conversations concerning additional collaborative purchasing for public building solar and electric vehicles for local government fleets.

FROM THE PROJECT PARTNERS

“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.” –Trevor Drake, Co-Director of the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team and Project Manager at Great Plains Institute.

“What will have long lasting impact is how public and private entities combined their knowledge, skills and expertise to generate subscriptions to 33 MW of solar development… This type of procurement for solar energy was a groundbreaking, innovative approach that has applied across the nation in only a few regions.” –Peter Lindstrom, Local Government Outreach Coordinator with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) at the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension.

“I’m most proud of the willingness and determination of everyone involved to try something new. It’s easy to look back at something that was successful and be glad to have done it. It’s much more difficult, however, to move forward with something that seems like a good idea but might not succeed. Everyone involved in this project took a risk in joining the process and seeing it through. I’m proud that our region is made up of local governments and partners that are willing and determined to be innovative in the face of great challenges.” –Trevor Drake, Co-Director of the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team and Project Manager at Great Plains Institute.

CELEBRATE THIS EFFORT

Join us on Thursday, May 25 to congratulate and celebrate these project partners, their positive environmental outcomes, and the lasting benefit of collaboration. To shake things up, we’re also honoring three individuals in honor of our 25th anniversary, so it’s sure to be a night of reflection and festivities for Minnesota’s environmental community. Purchase your tickets or tables here »

 

 

 


A note from Environmental Initiative:
In honor of Environmental Initiative’s 25th Anniversary, four organizational and two individual awards will be presented on May 25, 2017 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Get your tickets before they’re gone »

Damian Goebel

POSTED BY:

Communications Director

From Brownfields to Brightfields: Renewable Energy on Redevelopment Sites

January 4th, 2016

Minnesota Brownfields is hosting a session to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with developing solar energy on brownfield sites. This session, intended for solar developers and redevelopment professionals, will explore:

  • Solar energy trends in Minnesota and what it means for brownfields,
  • Legal considerations specific to developing solar energy on infill sites,
  • Incentives, policies, and programs available for brownfields and solar energy development.

Speakers will also share information from real-world cases like the Rice Creek Commons in Arden Hills, Former Ford Plant Site in Saint Paul, and a 400 megawatt landfill-mounted solar PV system in Hutchinson.

EVENT DETAILShutch-solar-array.jpg
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., Registration and light breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Event program (includes lunch)

Wilder Center
451 Lexington Parkway North
Saint Paul, MN
Directions »

Registration is $75 for Minnesota Brownfields members and $115 for nonmembers. The deadline to register is noon on Friday, January 29. Register »

I hope you will join Minnesota Brownfields for this session to explore the unique opportunities available to develop solar energy on redevelopment sites. For more information, including a list of speakers, visit Minnesota Brownfields website, or feel free to contact me directly with questions.

Natalie Brown

POSTED BY:

Program Coordinator, Minnesota Brownfields

Helping Monarchs and Honeybees at Scale

April 13th, 2015

We worked for years to ensure Minnesota leads the way in the transition to a clean energy economy. Homegrown renewable energy has led to billions of dollars of private investment, millions of production taxes paid to local communities, and thousands of jobs created across Minnesota.

For years, Minnesota’s leadership in energy has revolved around our significant wind power across south western Minnesota. Now, as prices continue to drop dramatically, we’re in the beginning stages of an exciting solar expansion as well. Thousands of acres of ground mounted solar are set to be installed over the next several years, and that expansion presents a unique opportunity to not only produce homegrown energy, but also to support our water and food supply.

Andrew Zimmern.JPG

These solar arrays could easily support new habitat for monarch butterflies and honey bees — simply by planting pollinator friendly native grasses rather than layer gravel or dirt. Most developers are used to building solar farms in California and Arizona (desert ground cover). In most cases, shipping in gravel is more expensive than dense beds of deep-rooted pollinator plants. (more…)

Michael Noble

POSTED BY:

Executive Director, Fresh Energy

Weekly Wrap-Up – 9/27/13

September 27th, 2013

Environmental Initiative’s next policy forum, The Future of Minnesota’s Electric Utilities, will focus on the future business models for utilities given changes in the landscape – from increasing energy efficiency to smaller, more dispersed sources of energy such as solar and wind. State and local energy experts will be featured and it should be a really interesting conversation. Given the forum topic, here are few things that grabbed my attention this week:

  1. What’s the largest misconception people in the U.S. have about renewable energy? (The Wall Street Journal)
  2. 2040: The City of Minneapolis establishes its energy vision. (City of Minneapolis)
  3. Installed solar power capacity outpaces wind energy for the first time. (Fuel Fix)
  4. World climate scientists embrace an upper limit for emissions. (The New York Times)
  5. If you add more solar and wind power to the energy grid, what happens? (The Washington Post)

Registration for the event will remain open until Friday October 25th. The event is from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and is $30 for members and $60 for nonmembers. We hope you’ll join us!

Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

Weekly Wrap-Up – 8/2/13

August 5th, 2013

Happy August, everyone! It’s been a busy week for energy and climate issues. Here’s the latest and greatest we’ve pulled from the web:

  1. New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head, Gina McCarthy, gives her first public speech on climate change and energy (The Washington Post).
  2. New study states world energy use is expected to rise 56% by the year 2040 (The Los Angeles Times).
  3. Should Minneapolis take over electric and natural gas services from Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy? Read up on the hearing this week (Star Tribune).
  4. Southern Minnesota’s Riverland Community College is recognized for solar energy innovation (KTTC.com).
  5. Have you thought about buying or leasing an electric car? Here is one Minnesota family’s story about plugging in (Clean Energy Resource Teams).
Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications
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