A recent expansion of Minneapolis’ Green Cost Share Program to solar energy projects, with a priority placed on those in Green Zones, has led to significant investments in solar projects in the city that will contribute to increased economic development and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The program has been working with businesses across the city since 2013 and is a great example of how collaboration can lead to greater benefits and outcomes for communities.

The Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT) at the Great Plains Institute is proud to partner with the City of Minneapolis on the program. Through this partnership, we provide program promotion, lead the application evaluation process, and share stories of funded projects. In this post, we’ll describe the recent expansion of the program, the latest outcomes, and information about the review process and near-term opportunities.

The Minneapolis Green Cost Share Program encompasses a wide variety of project areas and applicant types, including businesses, multifamily units, and solar bulk buy organizations applying for assistance with solar, energy efficiency, pollution reduction, and innovative energy projects. The City of Minneapolis expanded the eligibility of the Green Cost Share Program to include solar energy projects in 2018. The expansion of eligibility to solar energy projects included a focus to increase deployment of solar in Minneapolis’ Green Zones, described by the city as “a place-based policy initiative aimed at improving health and supporting economic development using environmentally conscious efforts in communities that face the cumulative effects of environmental pollution, as well as social, political and economic vulnerability.”

Program Implementation & Recent Outcomes

In 2018, Metro CERT partnered with the City of Minneapolis on the business applications for both solar and energy efficiency projects, which accounted for the majority of the applications received by the city. Metro CERT reviewed $2.1 million worth of projects for the 2018 program across 61 applications for the Green Cost Share Program. The city funded 43 of the projects for a total of $1 million that is leveraged with private dollars to invest in Minneapolis businesses. Importantly, 18 of the 43 projects funded were in the Minneapolis-established Green Zones.

These investments will drive an effective and significant reduction of carbon emissions in Minneapolis, as shown by these expected outcomes in the graphics below.

Through 15 energy efficiency projects, 1806.9 MWh of electricity will be saved. This amount of electricity savings is equivalent to the following greenhouse gas reductions:

Through 28 solar projects, 5867.9 MWh of solar energy will be added to the electric grid. This amount of solar energy is equivalent to the following greenhouse gas reductions:

Note: Equivalencies are from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, available at https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator.

The Metro CERT program at the Great Plains Institute worked with the City of Minneapolis to identify experts for the application review committee, craft the scoring system, and promote the program to businesses, multifamily units, and solar bulk buy organizations. The scoring included additional points for projects in the Green Zones, encouraging businesses in those areas of the city to apply for funding. Once the applications were received, the Metro CERT team recruited and facilitated the review committee. The compiled scores and ranking were provided to the City of Minneapolis, which made final decisions about which projects to fund.

We look forward to sharing case studies from projects and highlighting their successes with other businesses that may be interested to apply in the future, and to continue providing assistance and the expertise of our Metro CERT team to connect effective resources to businesses in Minneapolis. We are proud to be a partner on a program that prioritizes projects in Green Zone communities and inclusive access to project funding for low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color in Minneapolis.

Application Process for 2019

The Metro CERT team continues to coordinate the review process of the program in 2019. The first application cycle completed in December with 43 applications for solar and energy efficiency projects. The program funds are available on a first-come, first served basis. There will be rolling deadlines again this year with future dates of April 1 and June 1 if there are funds remaining. The 2019 program includes community solar gardens and solar bulk buys.

Below is a link to the program and the applications. Please share with any businesses in Minneapolis that may be interested in applying for the next deadline on April 1, 2019.

Learn about the experiences of local businesses with the Green Cost Share Program in these videos: 

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