2019 Spotlight: Rural collaboration
Alongside other 2019 Annual Report spotlights, this post describes an important area of CEE's work.
CEE works with utilities statewide to ensure the benefits of energy efficiency reach people in communities of all sizes.
Updating and constructing new buildings with energy efficient materials and equipment saves customers money and creates jobs in HVAC, construction, engineering, insulation, and more — all local jobs that, by their nature, can’t be exported. Three out of four jobs in the clean energy sector are energy efficiency jobs.
Our regional residential energy programs connect homeowners in Greater Minnesota with energy-saving resources while providing information about efficiency methods. This work depends on our strong partnerships with regional utilities such as Austin Public Utilities, Greater Minnesota Gas, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, Owatonna Public Utilities, and others.
In 2019, Minnesota Energy Resource's Community Energy Services program held its first-ever workshop in Bemidji, and five Neighborhood Energy Challenge workshops were help with Rochester Public Utilities — all told, more than 160 households participated.
Also provided by Minnesota Energy Resources, the Multifamily Energy Savings Program is designed to help multifamily building owners save energy through rebate incentives and direct installation of energy saving products like high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators. Over the years, the program has helped more than 8,600 multifamily units to achieve major natural gas savings. And thanks to strategic partnerships with Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, Freeborn Mower, Dakota Electric, and Rochester Public Utilities, in 2019 the program installed electric efficiency measures in more than 800 units, saving about $23 per unit annually.
Throughout 2019, CEE also partnered with six rural communities and their local utilities to develop a report on looming challenges they face. Each is home to a large coal or nuclear power plant that is likely to be retired in the next 20 years in response to changing economics and customer demand.
Drawing extensively from more than 100 interviews and survey responses, the report emphasizes the historical impact that each plant has had on the economy, identity, and general well-being of the surrounding community. Most of these communities attribute a large portion of their tax base and jobs to their local plant and expect dramatic changes when the plant is retired.
Living in a distinctly “purple” state, Minnesotans know that continuing our clean energy transition will require broad-based commitment and resolve, crossing parties and geographies. Putting clean energy solutions first throughout rural Minnesota helps demonstrate to the rest of the country that clean energy progress is a bipartisan goal.
Regional Residential Energy Programs
Community Energy Services, Minnesota Energy Resources
Multifamily Energy Savings Program
Minnesota's Power Plant Communities: An uncertain future, 2020
Community Energy Consulting
Partners in Energy
CEE's Policy Framework