Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part II, Local Considerations

October 7, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

The lowering cost of wind and solar energy generation has a local impact: communities are going to see more wind and solar development projects, more often. Communities see many of the direct impacts from these developments, from tax revenues to opportunities for co-beneficial land uses to managing resident feedback on such development. Many local considerations and indicators can help communities understand opportunities for maximizing local co-benefits as the market continues to increase for utility-scale solar and wind development. Continue reading »

New Resources to Help Cities Add Electric Fleet Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure

September 10, 2019 in Communities, Transportation & Fuels Author: Diana McKeown

During 2018-19,  28 Minnesota cities worked together in regional cohorts through the Cities Charging Ahead! (CCA) project to learn and act together to become “electric vehicle (EV) ready communities.” These cities increased their knowledge significantly and made strides toward their goals to foster EV adoption in their communities. CCA, which was led by the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams, officially wrapped up in June but the cities have expressed an interest in continuing to meet periodically in their regional cohorts. To build on this interest and the knowledge gained through CCA, we’ve developed resources that are now available for other cities to learn from.  Continue reading »

Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part I, Market Drivers

September 9, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

In the Midwest, powerful market drivers are creating an attractive environment for investors and developers to build more renewable energy projects and infrastructure. Declining technology costs for utility-scale wind and solar are combined in the region with an abundance of wind and solar resources. As utility-scale renewable energy projects increase across the region, it is important for communities to have an understanding of these market drivers and to prepare for project development and siting. Continue reading »

Exploring Renewable Energy Procurement Options with Cities

August 1, 2019 in Communities Author: Abby Finis

Cities and other local governments are actively participating in the renewable electricity market. Whether they’re participating for environmental or economic purposes (or both), communities continue to see the benefits of clean electricity and seek opportunities to add more for government operations and more broadly for residents and businesses. Navigating renewable energy procurement can be complex, especially as additional purchasing options become available. Continue reading »

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 »