Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) hosted its 2018 conference, Community Driven Clean Energy, March 27-28, 2018, in central Minnesota. The event showcased the many Minnesota communities where clean energy investments are paying off. The event also highlighted ways CERTs staff is helping communities become part of the solution.
CERTs Conference Reinforces Minnesota’s Clean Energy Leadership
CERTs is a public-private partnership involving the State of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota, nonprofits, and local entities around the state. Cool Choices collaborated with CERTs on a community engagement effort around sustainable practices more than five years ago, so it was interesting to get a look at their current efforts.
Overall the conference had a triumphant aura. There’s a lot of clean energy efforts in Minnesota these days, and as Kate Wolford, President of the McKnight Foundation, noted, the state is providing “incredible leadership” on clean energy, and is really serving as a model for others.
Effectively reinforcing this theme was a video CERTs created with support from the McKnight Foundation. In the video, farmers talked about how renewable energy installations helped them balance the sometimes unpredictable revenue from their family farms. Local officials talked about the tax revenue from these same projects—revenue that enabled county governments to invest in road and infrastructure projects, and that enabled schools to purchase new computers for students. At Cool Choices, we say it is important to hear regular people talk about how sustainability fits into their values, and this video illustrated the power of those conversations perfectly.
More, the video showcased a wide variety of Minnesota communities. One of the striking features of the clean energy revolution in Minnesota is that it’s happening everywhere in the state. Yes, in Minneapolis and other Twin Cities urban communities, but also in rural Minnesota – in communities in every corner of the state. In Minnesota, people realize that clean energy is about embracing the future, not about partisan politics.
Effective Clean Energy Leadership Leads To Job Creation and More
The video illustrated how leadership can prompt ripple effects through communities. The State of Minnesota led in creating a support system for local communities by supporting CERTs efforts at the local level. Local leaders then took advantage of the support available via CERTs to engage their community members. Local citizens and community leaders collaborated to identify and implement clean energy solutions. In the process, the state and local leadership facilitated efforts that created new clean energy jobs, spurring economic development, and demonstrating what’s possible in ways that will inspire other communities.
Those results are substantial. A 2017 study showed that Minnesota’s clean energy jobs grew at a rate of 3.8%! This growth is faster than any other sector of Minnesota’s economy.
Importantly, these local efforts showed people what’s possible. In a moment in time where there is no climate leadership at the federal level, it’s exciting to see local communities lead the way forward.
At Cool Choices we’re hopeful that more communities, in more states, will follow the example of these Minnesota communities. Cool Choices is participating in a Wisconsin effort that helps communities adopt sustainable practices, and there are similar efforts going on across the country. Close to home, people are working with local leaders to show that we can address climate change and prosper while doing so.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a community that’s leading on sustainability or clean energy, I hope you’ll take moment to thank local leaders for their efforts. Cool Choices definitely appreciates everything these folks are doing, and we’re excited to help in any way we can. Are you a local leaders looking for ways to mobilize communities around sustainability? Check out our collection of on-demand sustainability engagement webinars, or register for upcoming webinars.
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