e21 Forum Focuses on Integrated Systems Planning for a Decarbonized Electric System in Minnesota

March 4, 2019 in Electricity Authors: Jordana Palmer, Trevor Drake

Power LinesBeginning in 2019, Minnesota’s three investor-owned utilities will file resource plans that will chart a path into a time period of significant change and opportunity. With nearly all the state’s power sector COemissions coming from fossil-fuel plants that are retiring or potentially retiring in the next 20 years, the state has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a transformation towards decarbonized electricity generation. Continue reading »

Opportunities to Increase Small Business Engagement on Energy

December 11, 2018 in Communities, Efficiency Authors: Jordana Palmer, Matt Kazinka, Trevor Drake

In 2014, we wrote about “A New Approach to Small Business Energy Efficiency,” in which we described the unique barriers—time, knowledge, and trust—that small businesses face in identifying and enacting energy efficiency improvements. We proposed that the best solution may not be a technological one, but a social one—partnering with individuals who have existing relationships with small businesses in their community and training them as “energy coaches” who can provide the commitment, information, and trust that resource-limited business owners require. Continue reading »

Getting a Good Deal: Solar Garden Subscriptions for Local Governments

November 15, 2017 in Communities Author: Trevor Drake

Solar Garden

Since its launch in 2014, Xcel Energy’s solar garden program in Minnesota has driven a growing conversation about solar energy options and opportunities, especially among local government staff and elected officials. Local governments are sought after as solar garden subscribers for their large and often stable electric loads, excellent credit scores, and interest in opportunities to reduce energy costs and meet public goals on clean energy. Continue reading »

How a New Project Seeks to Reduce Barriers to Solar in Greater Minnesota

July 21, 2017 in Communities Authors: Sophia Krohn, Trevor Drake

Almost every time we give a community presentation on solar, somebody asks about how the costs of the technology are changing and whether it’s best to wait to “go solar.” It’s a smart question, and indeed the costs of the physical components of solar projects are being driven down by market forces (though arguably not quick enough to warrant waiting). The trouble with this question is that it misses the target in seeing what’s most important, which is not just the cost of hardware but the final cost of an installed system. Continue reading »

e21 Forum Convenes Stakeholders to Explore Consumer-Centric Rates and Performance-Based Compensation

July 12, 2017 in Electricity Authors: Sophia Krohn, Trevor Drake

Industry and Projects

On Friday July 14th, over 50 people convened in St. Paul to learn about and discuss innovations towards a more customer-centric regulatory framework and utility business model for the 21stcentury. The event was the second of several e21 Forums in 2017, which are convened by the Great Plains Institute and Center for Energy and Environment and designed to provide an opportunity for interested parties in Minnesota to hear about and discuss important issues facing the electric sector. Below is a recap of the event along with links to slides and resources. Continue reading »

Report Documents First-Ever Collaborative Procurement of Solar Garden Subscriptions by Group of Local Governments

March 13, 2017 in Communities Author: Trevor Drake

Community solar programs are gaining increasing interest from electric utility customers across the nation. Unlike individual solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, community shared solar systems, also known as Solar Gardens, create an opportunity for multiple individuals and organizations to receive the benefit of a larger solar installation without requiring it to be located on-site. For local government entities, these benefits include supporting clean energy and its positive local economic impacts, saving on energy bills for public facilities, and hedging against the future price volatility of electricity. Continue reading »