It’s nice to talk about the benefits of clean energy, yet putting goals into action that garners real results takes another level of commitment. And when an entire community gets involved in making it happen, that’s worth celebrating.
How we got here
Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, passed in 20071 with near universal legislative support and signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was landmark clean energy legislation. It aimed to spur renewable energy growth and save utility customers money through energy efficiency and conservation – all with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota 80 percent by 2050.
Now, ten years into the Next Generation Energy Act we can see ongoing, localized efforts to help clean our air and save us money while boosting our economy.
Recently, The Minnesota Department of Commerce recognized several communities for their efforts to help the state achieve its clean energy goal.
Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy action plans add definition to the effort.
The cities of Winona, Red Wing and Edina were recently recognized for their work around renewables and energy efficiency at a Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Conference in March. At this event, communities gather to share how they are adopting conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies and practices for their homes, businesses, and local institutions. These three communities have participated in Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy program and are continuing to do great things to promote clean energy.
Community clean energy snapshots
Several entities including the Sustain Winona Coalition and the County of Winona worked together to achieve Winona’s efficiency goals through an Energy Action Plan. On the residential side, they targeted low-income homeowners through Xcel Energy’s Home Energy Squad and Home Energy Savings Programs to drive conservation. A total of 224 households received services through energy audits and Home Energy Squad visits.
On the business side, they are helping three trade partners become BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified to install insulation, which then can qualify for Xcel Energy rebates. The combined efforts both educate consumers and businesses on conservation measures to save on energy costs and also help the city do its part in achieving energy savings goals.
In 2017, the city of Edina re-committed to its Climate Action Goals. To fulfill this, Edina’s Energy and Environment Commission, City staff, and Xcel Energy collaborated to create an Electricity Action Plan which was designed to address four goals around clean energy, efficiency measures along with renewable energy efforts.
For residential goals they wanted 750 households to commit to an energy savings action, and they far exceeded the goal, leading more than 1,200 to take action. As a second goal, they doubled the number of Windsource® subscribers and increased the subscription levels of participants. Windsource is a voluntary renewable, clean energy program that allows customers to pay a little extra every month to get some or all of their energy from renewable wind power.
The Electricity Action Plan’s third goal asked businesses to reduce or offset 2 percent of annual electric usage. Companies jumped on board and decreased 10 GWh (gigawatt hours) or 137 percent of the total goal.
As the final goal, the city wanted to lower greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings by 7.5 percent in 18 months. Lighting retrofits and re-commissioning of a local ice arena were just two of the 15 energy efficiency upgrades put into action to achieve that goal.
Red Wind was an early adopter, joining with Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy starting in 2015. Their most recent Energy Action Plan includes a congregation energy challenge to engage residents and door-to-door outreach and follow-up from volunteer business energy coaches.
A total of 1,054 energy efficiency actions were taken by Red Wing residents, and 247 households are subscribing to Windsource as of the end of 2017.
Also, 31 businesses engaged through door-to-door outreach efforts. Companies took a total of 258 energy efficiency actions.
Sometimes it takes a community to raise awareness and drive action on clean energy issues. These cities have indeed risen to the challenge and delivered on their goals.
To learn more about how Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy may be able to help your community, click here to watch a short video.