Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, to provide hot water, and to heat, cool, and light buildings. Minnesota is a great place for solar energy. Believe it or not, much of the Midwest has the same solar potential as Tallahassee, FL and Houston, TX! Through a combination of solar incentives and new technology, solar electricity continues to become more affordable and a more common part of our energy system.
Wondering if a particular site in Minnesota is good for solar energy? The Minnesota Solar Suitability App can help. This tool displays the solar potential of every spot in the state of Minnesota. With this data, and the services provided through this application, home and business owners can easily identify the solar potential of their property.
Minnesota is home to many solar businesses. The Clean Energy Project Builder is a great place to find an assortment of clean energy businesses including solar installers, community solar garden developers, energy auditors and more.
The City of Hutchinson is participating in SolSmart, a national program that provides free technical assistance with addressing local barriers to solar energy. Through this program, Hutchinson is working to make it easier for residents and businesses that choose solar energy.
Residents interested in installing photovoltaic solar panels (the kind that produce electricity) on their property can access financing through the Center for Energy and Environment.
Businesses can finance solar energy projects through a tool called “Property-Assessed Clean Energy”, or PACE, in which energy-saving measures are paid for through property taxes. More information at PACE financing.
The MN Clean Energy Job Board is a tool that job seekers can use to find jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields, and that employers can use to post openings.
COH Landfill Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 29 best practices. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage civic innovation.
The City of Hutchinson became a GreenStep City in April of 2015 to gain recognition for its achievements in sustainability and to engage in an already existing state-wide dialogue promoting environmental progress and innovation.
Virtually all City departments are already involved with sustainability initiatives in some form, working together to reduce costs through energy and water savings, and increase our community’s standard of living through a more efficient and beautiful built and natural environment. The GreenStep Cities program recognizes this collaboration with its best practices.
There are four current “steps” in the program signifying a City’s progress in sustainability areas. Hutchinson became a Step 4 City in June of 2016.Hutchinson GreenStep Cities page
Some results of Hutchinson’s environmental efforts include the following:
- Public boulevard trees calculated to produce $710,000/yr. in benefits.
- 20% reduction in gas/electric use in City buildings, 2006—2014
- Completion of a 400 kW solar array on a brownfield, lessening the environmental impact of the City. As of its completion, the array was the largest solar project on a brownfield in the state.
- One of the most successful and widespread residential composting programs in the state, diverting 3,800 tons of waste from the landfill in 2015 alone, 1,830 of which is from the source-separated program.
- Over 30 acres of city parkland converted to prairie, saving fuel and expanding wildlife habitat.
- 36 Consecutive years as a Tree City USA.
- Help facilitate a bi-weekly farmer’s market, promoting local foods.
- Recognition as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
- Implementation of a Complete Streets Policy, outlining the City’s dedication to promoting walking, bicycling, and other alternative modes of transportation
- Has begun transitioning streetlights around the City from energy intensive HPS to more efficient LED decorative lights
- Participation in the Energy Star challenge as a Community Partner