Solar Energy & Agriculture: Pursuing Win-Win Opportunities

July 9, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Brian Ross

NREL solar panels with pollinator friendly plants

The largest solar farm proposal in the Midwest recently received approval from Wisconsin state regulators. Most of the 3,500-acre Badger Hollow Solar Farm project, which is being developed by Illinois-based Invenergy, is located on active farmland and will include up to 1.2 million solar panels on 2,200 acres of the project area. Some in the community saw the project as a staggering land use change in their community and contrary to the county’s farmland preservation plan. Significant local opposition to the project decried the use of prime agricultural land for solar production.

This case is emblematic of the dilemmas faced by the solar industry, utilities, and those working at the local, state, and federal levels to decarbonize the power sector and increase the use of local renewable energy. The Great Plains Institute is working to address these issues in ways that support solar development and agricultural protection goals. Continue reading »

Cities Go to Boot Camp to Overcome Barriers to Renewable Energy Adoption

June 18, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Gail Nosek


When it comes to communities taking action to accelerate sustainability, the peer cohort model is proven to be successful time and time again because it allows people to learn together and learn from each other. To 
build on that success, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) are creating a network of Minnesota cities focused on identifying and overcoming barriers to renewable energy procurement.
Continue reading »

Energy Data Protocol Developed by Minnesota Utility Energy Registry Project

May 7, 2019 in Communities Author: Lola Schoenrich

Access to utility energy data will play a critical role in the level of success communities achieve in shaping their energy future. That’s why the Great Plains Institute, with our partners and other stakeholders, identified opportunities to improve availability of electric utility data at the community-level and developed a data protocol as a resource for communities. Continue reading »

The EV-olution Comes to Minnesota Communities

May 7, 2019 in Communities, Transportation & Fuels Author: Diana McKeown

Earlier this spring, 100 electric vehicle (EV) stakeholders gathered for a day-long event, “EV-olution: Charging Ahead with Electric Vehicles in Minnesota Communities,” held at the at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The event brought together people from 35 cities, state agencies, all of Minnesota major electric utilities, and nonprofits working in the EV space to accelerate the transition to an electrified transportation system. Continue reading »

GPI 20th Anniversary Leadership Interview Series: Vice President Lola Schoenrich, Communities

March 12, 2019 in Communities, News & Press Author: Gail Nosek

Over the last year, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization dedicated to transforming the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. As GPI staff, partners, and supporters reflect on the progress we’ve made together and look ahead to future opportunities for even greater impact in 2019 and beyond, we’re sharing a Q&A series we’ve created with our CEO and program leadership team. Continue reading »

New Interactive Tool Helps St. Louis Park Visualize Solar Potential

February 28, 2019 in Communities Author: Jessi Wyatt

The City of St. Louis Park in Minnesota passed an ambitious Climate Action Plan in 2018 which documented the city’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Within the plan, the city also details a goal to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and supply 10 percent of building electricity consumption with rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) by the same year. Continue reading »