On October 22nd, over one hundred people attended the 9th annual gathering of the Metro CERT region. As always, the program provided information, connections to resources and networking around community clean energy implementation. This year, participants were also offered the opportunity to provide input on both the Metro CERT priorities over the next two years and the Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan. The Great Plains Institute, in partnership with the MN Department of Commerce, the Legislative Energy Commission, and Rocky Mountain Institute, coordinates the 2025 Energy Action Plan.
A new live polling technology gave real-time results from the audience, who traveled to the Science Museum from all around the Twin Cities metro. Prior to voting, small groups discussed strategies and technologies considered most important to their communities and the broader metro area over the next 10 years. The session began by testing out the polling with a few questions to get to know the audience, including their city and affiliation (community organization, local government, business etc.). Everyone then provided one word to describe their vision of our energy future.
The audience then heard presentations by Trevor Drake, Great Plains Institute Project Coordinator, and Annie Levenson-Falk, Executive Director at the Minnesota Legislative Energy Commission, to provide them with background information before providing their input on Metro CERT priorities. Trevor touched on the overarching changes seen at the national level (with an assist from slides put together by Erik Fowler of Rocky Mountain Institute). He also discussed the work of Metro CERT and how it illustrates these broader changes. Examples included the Small Business Energy Efficiency Coaching project in partnership with the Lake Street Council, the GreenStep Cities program (which 89 Minnesota Cities have voluntarily joined to achieve their sustainability goals, including reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy), and a joint solicitation of solar garden subscriptions for 31 local government entities. Annie described the 2025 Energy Action Plan project and shared some information that will provide the basis for the final report.
There were a lot of great questions which led to a robust audience discussion, all while tossing the “catchbox,” a plush, green speaker box around the auditorium. Metro CERT was happy to provide a forum to gather input for both our own priorities as well as input for the Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan.