Solar, with Benefits! (Or, the Co-Benefits Approach to Solar Development)

July 6, 2020 in Communities, Electricity Author: Brian Ross

Solar energy is not only important to reaching a zero-carbon energy system—solar projects can, with appropriate siting and design, also deliver many benefits to local communities where projects are sited. Deploying the level of solar needed to decarbonize our economy will require addressing siting and regulatory processes which are increasingly a barrier to solar project development. The Great Plains Institute is fostering a new paradigm in the deployment of community- and utility-scale solar development; what we call the co-benefits approach to solar. We’re working with state, regional, and national partners to identify how energy development can both help solve the climate crisis and deliver local benefits to the host community. Continue reading »

US Cities Step Up to Join a New Clean Energy Challenge

June 15, 2020 in Communities, News & Press Author: Lola Schoenrich

sustainable states network

 

US Cities Step Up to Join a New Clean Energy Challenge

 Initiative supports local clean energy action by 30 cities in 5 states

 

For Immediate Release:  Contact: Lola Schoenrich, Sustainable States Network, Cell: 612-720-9558,  Email: [email protected]

Minneapolis, MN—How well do small and mid-sized US cities stack up when it comes to clean energy goals? That’s what the Sustainable States Community Energy Challenge aims to show with tools and support for 30 communities in five states to assess their clean energy goals and initiatives. The challenge will compare clean energy achievements across similarly-sized cities, assess future initiatives, and provide project implementation assistance. Additionally, participating communities will be a part of an in-state peer cohort and will receive technical assistance to completing a pressing clean energy initiative.

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Iowa Solar Toolkit

May 22, 2020 in Communities, Reports & Whitepapers Author: Brian Ross

Planning, Zoning, and Permitting

As part of Solar Ready Iowa, toolkits have been assembled to equip local governments in Iowa with information regarding solar development as it relates to planning, zoning, and permitting. The toolkits were created in 2016, then model ordinances are being updated in 2020 to reflect new best practices and lessons learned since 2016. Minnesota and Iowa are updated and Illinois and Wisconsin are in process, with ordinance for Indiana and Michigan under development. The purpose of these toolkits is to provide resources that will assist communities in addressing barriers to solar energy installations in a manner tailored to each community’s needs. The following is a summary of materials that can be found in each of the toolkits. Continue reading »

Minnesota Solar Toolkit

May 22, 2020 in Communities, Reports & Whitepapers Author: Brian Ross

As part of the Grow Solar Partnership, toolkits have been assembled to equip local governments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois with information regarding solar development as it relates to planning, zoning, and permitting. The toolkits were created in 2016, then model ordinances are being updated in 2020 to reflect new best practices and lessons learned since 2016. Minnesota and Iowa are updated and Illinois and Wisconsin are in process, with ordinance for Indiana and Michigan under development. The purpose of these toolkits is to provide resources that will assist communities in addressing barriers to solar energy installations in a manner tailored to each community’s needs.
Continue reading »

A Collaborative Approach to Building Energy Benchmarking Policies

May 6, 2020 in Communities Author: Abby Finis

A building at twilight Minnesota cities are collaborating on standards and tools for measuring and tracking energy consumption in buildings to increase energy efficiency, lower costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Efficient Buildings Collaborative, an initiative of Hennepin County (GPI is a partner), is a new program to standardize policies for building energy benchmarking in Minnesota cities and develop a shared platform for cities to use. Continue reading »

GreenStep Cities Celebrates 10 Years

May 4, 2020 in Communities Authors: Diana McKeown, Lola Schoenrich

GPI is thrilled to mark the 10-year anniversary of GreenStep Cities, a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program that helps Minnesota cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. GPI is proud to be a GreenStep Cities partner and take part in supporting and recognizing cities’ progress on sustainability and quality of life. Continue reading »

Solar and Wind in Wisconsin: A Local Government Guide for Siting Utility-Scale Projects

April 2, 2020 in Communities, Electricity, Reports & Whitepapers Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

A wind turbine behind solar panelThe Great Plains Institute is engaging local governments across the Upper Midwest on long-term planning for renewable energy. As part of this effort, we developed a guide to provide communities in Wisconsin with an overview of long-term utility- and community-scale solar and wind development—systems sized one megawatt (MW) or greater. Continue reading »

Repowering and Decommissioning: What Happens in Communities When Solar and Wind Projects End?

April 1, 2020 in Communities, Electricity Author: Jessi Wyatt

A wind turbine being builtMidwestern communities have experienced a dramatic increase in the buildout of solar and wind systems in the last decade, continuing an upward trend in renewable energy projects that began in the early- and mid-2000s. As many of these initial projects reach the end of their lifespan, communities will see the local impacts of repowering and decommissioning—the decisions made at the end of a project’s life. Learning about the full lifespan of projects can help communities planning new projects attain the long-term benefits of renewable energy while reducing potential conflicts. Continue reading »