System Design for a High-Renewables Future: Insights from the MN Solar Pathways Analysis

January 14, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Brian Ross

If sunlight strikes a solar panel, but we don’t use the electricity generated, is it “wasted”? In some parts of the country, so much solar energy is produced at midday that there is no use for it. Demand for electricity has already been fully met by solar and other sources of generation; the value of additional electricity on the grid is actually negative. Continue reading »

Lightning Talks, Live Polling Spark Engaging Discussions at Metro CERT Annual Event

January 10, 2019 in Communities Author: Kristoffer Acuña

The Metro Clean Energy Resource team recently brought people together from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area for its 11th annual event. Highlights from the event, which took place in November 2018, include live polling, a panel of lightning talks focusing on clean energy actions in the metro area, and clean energy action postcards that will be sent to attendees. In this blog, we’ll share some of the results of the discussions and resources shared with attendees. Continue reading »

GPI Welcomes Kristoffer Acuña to Communities Program 

January 9, 2019 in Communities Author: Diana McKeown

Headshot of Kristoffer Acuña

I’m pleased to welcome Kristoffer Acuña to the GPI team as a program assistant with the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (Metro CERT). In this position, Kris will work on the Cities Charging Ahead! project, which aims to help Minnesota cities increase understanding of and make progress toward electric vehicle readiness. Kris will also assist with additional projects for GPI’s work as part of the Metro CERT and other projects that are part of our Communities Program. 

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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 »

Powering the Future in Rural Minnesota: Assessing Views of Solar Energy as a Local Resource

December 7, 2018 in Communities Authors: Brian Ross, Jenna Greene

Like many parts of the US, communities in rural Minnesota are experiencing growing interest among residents and businesses in development of an untapped, local economic resource: solar energy. To help communities understand and plan for development of solar resources, the Great Plains Institute has engaged local leaders to identify key gaps in information, challenges, and opportunities associated with such development. Continue reading »

Cities Need Forecasted Data to Make Impactful Emissions Reductions

December 6, 2018 in Communities Author: Abby Finis

Cities have a greater ability than they realize to bend the emissions curve toward a low-carbon future. From zoning, to line-items in the city budget, to projects included in a capital improvement program; there are touchpoints in the regulatory, policy, and planning authority of local governments that can be leveraged to ­influence carbon emissions within their jurisdictions. Continue reading »

Enabling Local Action on Energy Goals through Engagement on State Policy

November 29, 2018 in Communities Author: Jenna Greene

Local governments of all sizes are setting energy goals across Minnesota. They see the rapid advancements in technology and the economic benefits that come with renewable energy and electrification of transportation. Yet when it comes to implementation, communities regularly face barriers to enact the programs and projects that will help them achieve their goals. Continue reading »

Dedicated City Staff Crucial to Setting and Implementing Energy Goals

November 6, 2018 in Communities Author: Jenna Greene

Photo Courtesy of CERTs

Sustainability issues such as energy, water quality, and climate mitigation and resiliency are becoming increasingly important to cities in Minnesota and across the country. At the same time, it is challenging for city staff to focus on improving citywide sustainability given the daily needs and priorities of government service delivery and operations.   Continue reading »