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

April 2, 2020 in Communities, Electricity 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 »

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

March 23, 2020 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

The 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 Minnesota with an overview of long-term utility- and community-scale solar and wind development—systems sized one megawatt (MW) or greater.   Continue reading »

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

March 9, 2020 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

The 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 Iowa with an overview of long-term utility- and community-scale solar and wind development—systems sized one megawatt (MW) or greater.   Continue reading »

Northfield Climate Action Plan Puts City on Path to Reach Ambitious Targets

February 26, 2020 in Communities Authors: Abby Finis, Jenna Greene

In November 2019, the City of Northfield joined several other Minnesota communities in adopting the Northfield Climate Action Plan. Northfield’s efforts are an excellent example of a small city setting ambitious climate goals and planning for long-term resilience. Action on climate at all scales, from small to large cities, is critical to achieving state, national, and global carbon reduction targets. Continue reading »

Capital City Commits to Climate Action with New Plan

February 11, 2020 in Communities Author: Abby Finis

Saint Paul Climate Action and Resilience Plan post photo of Saint Paul skyline

The last agenda item at the final city council meeting of the decade in Saint Paul, Minnesota was the adoption of the Saint Paul Climate Action and Resilience Plan. After more than 30 residents stood in line to publicly share their support for the plan for Minnesota’s capital city, the council unanimously voted to adopt it. It was a momentous and triumphant moment and there is much for the city to be proud of. Continue reading »

Climate Action Work Plans Can Provide Cities More Accessible, Near-Term Strategies

February 5, 2020 in Communities Author: Abby Finis

St. Paul in fall

I am excited to share that my colleagues and I have developed a new approach for cities to achieve their energy and climate goals more quickly and affordably: climate action work plans. These work plans are intended to support cities in setting near-term targets by creating an implementation schedule with specific steps for completing high-impact actions. Continue reading »

Climate & Energy Planning Takes Shape in Minnesota Communities

January 22, 2020 in Communities Author: Jessi Wyatt

A view of St. Paul in evening

Cities increasingly understand their role in addressing climate change, and some are finding ways to use a traditional tool—comprehensive planning—as part of their climate and energy planning efforts. In Minnesota, a recent inventory of actions at the local level shows how a broad range of communities are incorporating climate, energy, resilience, and sustainability in their planning processes. This blog digs into GPI’s analysis and findings from this inventory, explores motivators for the change, and highlights the next steps for communities interested in local climate and energy planning. Continue reading »

Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part III, Local Readiness and Decision-Making

December 10, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

Wind turbines in a field, against a sunset

Community-scale readiness is critical to the successful development of the Midwest’s abundant solar and wind energy resources. As utility-scale wind and solar development increases in the Midwest, communities should consider how renewable energy development aligns with local goals and values. A series of proactive actions can ensure that the way utility-scale renewables develop in a community is in line with community vision, reduces potential conflict, and optimizes co-benefits. Continue reading »

Solar Energy & Natural Systems: Exploring Co-Benefit Opportunities

November 21, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Brian Ross, Katharine Chute

A pollinator test plot underneath the PV array at the Chisago Solar Site, part of the Aurora Solar Project in Minnesota. NREL scientist Jordan Macknick is researching the economical and ecological affect of pollinator plants planted underneath the PV array

Solar projects can be designed and sited to meet natural resource conservation goals. Capturing the natural resource co-benefit opportunities of solar development will involve creative partnerships, targeted spatial planning, and rethinking site and project design. Continue reading »