The Metro CERT Spring Resource and Networking Event on April 17th at the Como Zoo hosted an exciting group of speakers and energy professionals all focused on achieving the goal of cleaner and more sustainable energy use in our local communities.

The gathering was also a celebration of the seven years that Metro CERT has been actively connecting local communities to the resources they need to achieve those sustainability goals.

Panel – Perspectives on Community Solar:

  • The evening began with an introduction from Trevor Drake, Metro CERT Coordinator at the Great Plains Institute, who went on to moderate a panel on the concept of solar community gardens.
  • The panel was kicked off by Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Statewide Director, who spoke in depth on the topic of community solar, further expanding on how communities can achieve community solar usage through investments in shared solar panels. Members who participate in a community solar program are able to buy “shares” of a centralized solar panel system, thereby reducing their dependence on traditional energy sources.
  • Next, Tami Gunderzik from Xcel Energy spoke about the new initiatives that Xcel Energy is working toward to expand energy plans for local communities. The Solar Rewards Community Program would expand the options community members have in choosing the source of their energy, for example a community-shared solar garden. The program Tammy spoke about would provide benefits to those who are involved in community-shared solar gardens, for which there would need to be a minimum of five members to have a fully operational garden. Download presentation
  • Keiko Veasey and Lisa Bigaouette from the non-profit Linden Hills Power and Light Solar Task Force spoke about their efforts to shrink environmental footprints through community engagement and education efforts. Their ultimate goal is to promote sustainable energy usage and waste conservation/reduction in their community. They spoke about how the community solar concept fit directly to their interests, and how they hope to educate and engage local communities on the topic moving forward.
  • Finally, Brian Ross spoke about the interplay of zoning and solar energy. He stressed that we must make our communities “solar ready”. From his speech, a lively discussion on the risks of solar energy and fire safety began. Another great discussion that followed centered on why investing in solar energy now versus the future is important.

Community Partner Profile – City of Oakdale: The Community Partner Profile featured Jen Hassebroek from the City of Oakdale. She spoke about her success of mobilizing her community to become a green city in the pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She concluded by posing the question, “How does anything get done?” and offered three possible responses: 1) Find your champions, and use them! 2) Look for ways to incorporate sustainability into community priorities, and 3) Don’t lose sight of the goal. Download presentation

Seed Grant Project – Diagnostic HVAC Testing Pilot: A look at one of the Metro CERT Seed Grant Projects Featured Bruce Stahlberg of Affordable Energy Solutions, who performed diagnostic testing on a sampling of forced air systems in small commercial buildings in the City of Buffalo to determine overall system efficiency. Stahlberg explained that due to a lack of proper testing, design, and maintenance, total HVAC system efficiency is estimated to be only 32%! Download presentation

Metro CERT Year in Review: The Metro CERT Year in Review was presented by Diana McKeown, Metro CERT Director. The review focused on the successes that the organization has had in achieving the goal of helping communities find resources to implement clean energy while reducing their overall carbon usage. Metro CERT has been able to do this due to a variety of programs, such as Seed Grants, community projects, a small business energy working group, the GreenStep Cities program, and the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program. Another successful year for Metro CERT, and here is to many more! Download presentation

The end of the evening consisted of a wide selection of appetizers and sweets, coupled with a cash bar, and a multitude of lively discussions as attendees socialized and networked. Overall, the event not only allowed for a proper celebration of Metro CERT, but of all energy businesses and non-profits alike in the metro area. These organizations all share the common goal of connecting local communities with the resources they need to use cleaner energy, while at the same time developing a more sustainable society.

Download presentations from the event:

This post originally appeared on the Clean Energy Resource Teams website here. To learn more about Metro CERT, please visit GPI’s Metro CERT project page here.

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