ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Sustainability & Resilience in Action
R5DC has a long history of work around regional resiliency and renewable energy in our beautiful, biologically diverse region (e.g. Local Foods, Solar Schools, Watershed Planning, household well water loans through NCEDA). Community members in our region continuously express interest in having more opportunities to expand energy and environment-related initiatives via our Comprehensive Regional Economic Development Strategy (CREDS). Through that process, R5DC has prioritized facilitating energy and environment-related projects in our region.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT PLANNING
R5DC is currently working with eight communities over the next two years, with funding from USDA's Rural Community Development Initiative, Morgan Family Foundation and Sourcewell.
Our Energy and Environment Planning utilizes the years of experience and expertise at R5DC in energy and environment. Our Energy & Environment Planning process prioritizes projects that complement and support a city's comprehensive plan and county's hazard mitigation plan. Through community meetings and surveys, projects are prioritized into a five-year action plan that includes investments and timelines and identifies additional resources for further implementation.
Sustainability and resiliency planning ensures a thriving region for generations to come and is measured by the intersectional connections with environment and the WealthWorks eight forms of wealth. We are excited to continue Energy and Environment Planning with selected cities in our region during the next few years.
We are grateful to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Economic Development Administration for funding the two pilot plans for cities of Hackensack and Staples. As the result of their investments, we are already seeing outcomes for these projects.
Energy & Environment Plans Completed with Projects Planned:
The Building Economic Resilience through Clean Energy and Equity (BERCEE) initiative is a multi-stakeholder effort co-convened by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) to find opportunity at the confluence of three complex and interrelated challenges facing Minnesota today:
1) A global pandemic that has incurred economic devastation
2) Long-standing racial disparities that can no longer be ignored
3) The growing urgency to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions
R5DC participated in the creation of this plan as a stakeholder.
Region Five Development Commission’s GreenCorps member went through the SolSmart program that works to help provide education for local solar markets. Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun – and provides many benefits for individuals, the community, economy, and environment.
Below is a list of resources for individuals, businesses, and local units of governments that may be considering solar.
Thinking About Installing Solar? Here’s Where to Get Started.MN Solar Suitability Analysis App (umn.edu) Use this site to learn about your business or home’s potential for solar energy. You can also estimate the performance of potential PV projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator. Connect with the Clean Energy Resource Teams representative in your area and check out their list of solar resources. If your site looks like it might be good for solar, check out MnSEIA’s list of solar contractors. A local installer can provide you with a solar site assessment, quotes, and other useful resources for getting a solar installation off the ground.
Resources for Local GovernmentsBelow are helpful resources for local government units around solar zoning, planning, and land use. - Clean Energy Resource Teams solar toolkit with model ordinances - Best Practice Guidance for Solar and Zoning | SolSmart - Local Government Guide for Solar Deployment | US Department of Energy - Solar@Scale: A Local Government Guidebook for Improving Large-scale Solar Development Outcomes | American Planning Association
Further Learning and TrainingInterested in more solar training? You could become NABCEP certified and take more courses through the Midwest Renewable Energy Association | Solar Training, and Resources Interested in becoming part of the renewable energy economy today? Check out the Minnesota Clean Energy Job Board
Providing collaborative facilitation of comprehensive watershed management plans
Minnesota has a long history of water management by communities and local governments. One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P) is the next step in the evolution of water planning. Several communities and soil and water conservation district’s (SWCD) in Region Five have already begun developing watershed-based plans consistent with the 1W1P vision. 1W1P is a program offered through the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) that supports partnerships of local governments in developing prioritized, targeted, and measurable implementation plans. Key principles include planning at the major watershed scale and aligning local plans with state strategies. Plans created through the 1W1P program are called comprehensive watershed management plans.
The Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) assists communities and SWCD’s throughout the planning process by facilitating a strategic policy framework that is based on obtaining input from a broad array of soil and water conservation stakeholders ranging from hydrologists, well drillers, and farmers, to state agencies like the DNR and MPCA. Through this process, Region Five helps communities navigate a process to identify issues, barriers and solutions related to soil and water conservation on a watershed basis, which naturally transcends local municipal and county boundaries.