In 2018 in the United States, fossil fuel combustion accounted for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions and 98% of carbon dioxide emissions. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 4.1 billion metric tons are added to the atmosphere each year.
DevelopMN’s goal is to reduce the carbon footprint by increasing the number of kilowatt hours of renewable energy produced in Greater Minnesota.
Examples of the impacts made by RDOs include:
The Southwest Regional Development Commission, in partnership with the Rural Minnesota Energy Board, operates a Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE program. This program allows for businesses to take out a loan to do a building energy retrofit and repay the loan through their property taxes. The energy saved by the business is enough to make the additional tax payments as well as put money back into the business. In 2020, the Rural Minnesota Energy Board partnered with Great Plains Institute, Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence, and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to host the first Southwestern Minnesota Electric Transmission Summit, a two-day virtual dialogue about the region’s transmission planning and development goals.
Southwest Regional Development Commission is also a partner of the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), a statewide public-private partnership staffed by four organizations in Minnesota whose mission is to connect individuals and communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. CERTs has impacted over 660,000 people through grants, events, and programs since 2009, and awarded over $1.3 million in Seed Grants to energy projects since 2006.
Energy and Environment Planning
In 2020, Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) added Energy and Environment Planning to its portfolio of programs and is currently working with communities in their region to develop Energy and Environment Action Plans. These plans help cities implement and envision energy and environment-related projects in their communities. These plans and projects will help mitigate local impacts of climate change based on specific needs identified by each community and enhance our rural region’s potential to thrive. In 2020, the MPCA helped fund the first two pilot community Energy and Environment Action Plans with two cities categorized as Environmental Justice Areas of Concern, Staples and Hackensack. The prioritized planning process with Staples and Hackensack has been successful and with an expressed need by other cities in our region, R5DC is working with eight more cities on their custom-designed, community-specific Energy and Environment Action Steps over the next two years.
The largest project of its kind in Minnesota, and a model for rural scattered site solar development, Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) partnered with 4 electric utility companies/co-ops, 2 school districts, a community college, an energy equity firm and a $1.9 million-dollar grant from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund for a $3.5 million project to develop 6 solar PV systems, totaling 1.5MW in central MN. This project has saved schools thousands a month on their energy bill and delivers STEAM curriculum to enhance student learning. The Solar Schools project generated an estimated $7.8 million of economic activity in the region.