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2018 Clean Energy Community Award Winners

Seven communities in Minnesota earned 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards. The award winners were honored on March 28, 2018 at the Community Driven Clean Energy Conference in St. Cloud, Minn. Four communities received Achievement Awards and three communities earned Planning Awards. The Minnesota Department of Commerce sponsored and coordinated the awards program, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Achievement Awards

Town of Crystal Bay

Solar Capital of the Continental USA
The Town of Crystal Bay (Finland, Minn.) adopted a comprehensive land use plan that includes energy conservation and alternative energy production as one of its goals for community development and sustainability. To quantify Crystal Bay’s efforts, the town identified the total solar photovoltaic installations within the township as 128.866 kW, which includes four home and institutional solar systems installed in 2017 for 71.7 kW. With an estimated population of 456, that represents 282.6 watts per capita. That’s enough capacity for Crystal Bay to claim itself the solar capital of the United States.

City of Edina

Edina’s Electricity Action Plan
In 2017, Edina’s Energy & Environment Commission, city staff, the Center for Energy and Environment, and Xcel Energy collaborated to create an Electricity Action Plan and execute multiple strategies to meet four goals around energy efficiency and renewable energy: (1) Residents took 1,275 energy-saving actions in 2017; (2) Windsource had 976 new Edina subscribers in 2017; (3) 224 actions were taken by businesses, saving 10 GWh of electricity; and (4) more than 15 actions were taken by the city to lower the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5%, including lighting retrofits, recommissioning the Braemar Ice Arena, and increasing the Conservation and Sustainability Fund from $250,000 to $1 million annually to invest in future energy efficiency upgrades.

City of Red Wing

Green Wing Energy Action Plan
The City of Red Wing teamed up with Xcel Energy to develop the “Green Wing Energy Action Plan” and help residents and business owners save energy. The plan promoted renewable energy and energy efficiency adoption by residential households and small to mid-sized commercial businesses. By mid-2017, 514 residences and 223 businesses completed at least one energy-saving action, saving an estimated 1,761,788 kWh of electricity and 146,197 therms of natural gas.

Sustain Winona

Moving Winona County Forward: A Rural Energy Collaboration
Sustain Winona Coalition, Winona’s Energy Action Team, and community partners across Winona County formed the Moving Winona Forward Energy Collaboration. The project leveraged state, federal, and utility funding sources to perform energy audits and efficiency improvements for over 200 Winona County households, the majority of which were low-income, saving 150,557 kWh of electricity and 15,789 therms of natural gas in 2017. The City of Winona, Winona County, and Winona Area Public Schools also committed to purchasing 40%, 100%, and 100% of their annual energy use, respectively, from a community solar garden.

Planning Awards

City of Warren

City Benchmarking Initiative
The City of Warren has begun the development of an automated benchmarking program that will initially track utility usage of its buildings in B3 Benchmarking and has the potential to expand to private commercial buildings and residential households. By archiving the utility usage of the buildings in B3, the city will examine the effectiveness of energy conservation/renewable energy efforts and determine which sites would have the greatest gains from such measures. The program will be crucial to the success of the city’s clean energy goals by allowing for clear and concise measurements of input versus output to reach the goal of energy independence and energy neutral buildings.

Hennepin County

Hennepin County Building Energy Benchmarking Collaborative
Hennepin County has planned a program that will provide technical resources for small to mid-sized cities to implement energy benchmarking programs. The program will consist of cities voluntarily passing energy benchmarking and disclosure policies requiring public, commercial, and/or multifamily buildings to report their energy use publicly. This program will provide the technical resources and support to implement an energy benchmarking program. Hennepin County, with support from the McKnight Foundation, will fund the development of the program and participating cities will purchase the services they need to implement an energy disclosure policy in their city.

Minnesota State Mankato

Campus-Wide Energy Savings—Sustainability Project
Minnesota State University-Mankato (MSU) used the Commerce-administered Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) to accomplish energy-use related improvements in several campus buildings and site areas. MSU awarded Ameresco an $8.1 million Energy Savings Performance Contract that leverages energy and operational savings to finance retrofits at no net cost to the University. This project will help the University save over $404,000 annually in energy and avoided operational & maintenance costs over the 18-year contract period. The guaranteed energy savings amount is 5,983,084 kWh of electricity savings per year and 2,048 therms per year. This project provides major progress towards the MSU Sustainability Plan by saving 4,161 metric tons of CO2 per year.

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