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City of Brainerd Receives Technical Assistance on Journey to Energy Independence

Brainerd, MN – 2040: A Brainerd Odyssey, Path to Resiliency, has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) Cohort 2 with a goal to reduce the energy burden for residences and businesses in Brainerd.

Over 15 local organizations are collaborating to develop a strategy to help residents and businesses in Brainerd reduce their energy consumption, ultimately saving costs. The collaboration will also work to generate more energy locally, including considerations around the hydropower plant and other developments. Team members include Brainerd Public Utilities, Tri-County Community Action Partnership, Region Five Development Commission (R5DC), Brainerd HRA, BlueGreen Alliance, Brainerd Public Schools, MN Department of Commerce, CenterPoint Energy, and more.

“Technical assistance from an unbiased third party is critical in successfully reducing energy costs locally through energy efficiency and other means, and that assistance is difficult to find in rural Minnesota,” said Cheryal Hills, Executive Director of R5DC. “With the support from DOE, we look forward to a local community strategy in crafting the local energy action plan.”

Communities LEAP will provide in-depth, customized technical assistance primarily through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to support the Brainerd coalition as they work to develop energy efficiency and energy generation efforts in the city to help lower energy costs, make energy services more reliable, cut pollution, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and more.

Specifically, this project will develop a local energy action plan engaging three planning segments: Community, Workforce, and Technical, with participants contributing within the three focus areas. Supporting the delivery of these energy goals will be the continued development of the local construction trades workforce, and action to increase household income, which is 51% of the state average, while improving the aging housing stock, with over 59% of homes built before 1970.

The team will begin planning soon, so please stay tuned and get engaged!

Communities LEAP Cohort 2 is designed to provide technical assistance to communities that have experienced historic environmental inequity or the economic consequences of the declining fossil fuel industry and are now focused on developing clean energy projects to equitably improve environmental conditions and increase economic opportunity.


About Lead Applicant Organization

The Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) is a high-performing, regionally focused partner committed to enhancing the vitality and quality of life in Region 5 through resilient, collaborative, and inclusive approaches to regional community development, economic development, and transportation initiatives. R5DC is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visit to learn more.

The DOE Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) aims to facilitate sustained community-wide economic and environmental benefits primarily through DOE’s clean energy deployment work. This opportunity is specifically open to low-income, energy-burdened communities that are also disadvantaged and/or are experiencing direct economic impacts from a shift away from historical reliance on fossil fuels. Under Communities LEAP, DOE matches selected communities with technical assistance providers who assist them with bringing their clean energy planning and economic development vision to life.  


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