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Consumer-Friendly Community Solar Pledge

The solar industry in Minnesota is growing rapidly, with new businesses and jobs being added every day. To help consumers navigate this rapidly growing market, Fresh Energy has established a set of best practices you can look for when choosing a community solar business.
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Clean Energy

Clean Energy

Xcel community solar turns two

As the market potential and popularity of community solar grows nationally, all eyes are on Minnesota. Why are so few projects up and running? How real is the 800MW queue? Is the program sustainable? At the two year anniversary of Xcel Energy’s community solar program launch, we’re taking a deep dive on the health of the program today and its potential going forward.

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Partnering with Great River Energy on our path to electrify the economy

As a utility with an energy mix that’s more than 70 percent coal, GRE’s leadership took the courageous step to seek out external stakeholders for deep engagement and advice. It conducted a process with the Great Plains Institute to “hear all the voices”, such as its largest industrial customers, lenders, regulators, and advocates (including me) seeking to reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Based in part on those conversations, Great River Energy began to make very strategic shifts in their business, resulting in at least six big decisions over the past several years that Fresh Energy applauds as leadership worthy of national recognition.

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Property rights protected by Minnesota regulators

Today, Minnesota regulators ruled in favor of consumers and their property rights when it comes to generating their own solar power. The issue at hand was a customer complaint brought to the Public Utilities Commission after the customer felt he was denied his rights to be compensated for generating his own energy under Minnesota law. The customer’s utility – Minnesota Valley Light and Power Association in Montevideo – had attempted to pay nothing for a significant amount of electricity and other system benefits his solar system would provide back to the grid.

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Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency

How marginal cost pricing impacts rates

In several recent filings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota’s rate-regulated electric and gas utilities have requested changes to the rates they charge customers to recover costs of providing service. Through these and other proceedings, rate design has become a primary focus of utility policy due to its impact on how customers use and pay for the energy they receive. Fresh Energy has provided analysis, testimony, and recommendations in these proceedings to ensure rates encourage energy efficiency and allow fair compensation for onsite generation like solar.

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Supporters raise $13,005 for Fresh Energy on #GTMD16

As part of Give to the Max Day, nearly 90 Fresh Energy supporters donated $13,005 to keep Minnesota’s progress on clean energy going. We’re especially proud to work in communities across the state and earn the support from folks from Rochester to Elk River and Morris to Laporte. The momentum across Minnesota has also earned Fresh Energy national acclaim, bringing in donations from five different states yesterday alone. Fresh Energy is proud to be a leading voice for clean energy policy and we couldn’t do our work without the amazing support from individuals across the state and country. Thank you so much for your support.

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Global Warming

Global Warming

Minnesota Power To Retire Two Coal Plants

Today, Minnesota Power based in Duluth announced their decision to retire two older coal-burning power plants, Boswell 1 and 2 in Cohasset, MN, near Grand Rapids, by the end of 2018. Fresh Energy and our clean energy partners advocated that these units appear to be no longer economic to run, with cleaner energy available and cheaper. Regulators at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on June 9, 2016 evaluated the economics of running these older units with needed additional pollution controls, compared to other cleaner, cheaper options for meeting energy needs, and the PUC agreed with us.

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How the historic decision to transform Xcel Energy’s electricity was made

Working directly with Xcel and with our “Clean Energy Organizations”, or CEO, partnership, Fresh Energy used for the first time in Minnesota the same utility inputs and modeling Xcel uses. We analyzed options for closing the Sherco 1 and 2 coal plants and replacing them with vast amounts of cost-effective energy efficiency, wind, and solar power. Our independent analysis demonstrated that Xcel’s cheapest course of action—and the lowest in carbon—was the retirement and replacement of these two units, which are the biggest sources of global warming pollution in the Upper Midwest. Xcel agreed with our analysis, and completely revised its 15-year plan to reflect those economic opportunities. Fresh Energy applauds the unanimous Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decision to modify and approve Xcel’s 15-year Resource Plan as the affordable, reliable, and clean path forward for Minnesota customers.

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Public Utilities Commission Unanimously Approves Xcel’s 15-year energy plan

Today, the Public Utilities Commission held its final hearing and unanimously approved with modifications Xcel Energy’s 15-year energy plan (Integrated Resource Plan). After two years of rigorous study, Xcel Energy proposed a Midwest-leading energy plan for the next 15 years – doubling the amount of wind and solar on its system and taking significant strides to reduce coal with the retiring of Sherco units 1 and 2 in the mid-2020s. Xcel’s proposed energy plan saw broad support from customers, including over 10,000 Minnesotans; cities of Becker, Red Wing, and Minneapolis; Sherburne County; clean energy organizations, and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.

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The Narrative

The Narrative

Electric Cooperatives Connecting Pollinator Conservation and Clean Energy

“Butterflies, birds, and bees find a haven at Connexus” proclaimed the email recently sent to all members of Connexus Energy, Minnesota’s largest customer-owned electric cooperative. Connexus’ community solar garden hasn’t just been popular with its members — the site is also benefitting Minnesota’s bumblebees, honeybees, and foraging song birds — and is on the leading edge of a rapidly growing trend.

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188-2: Minnesota Sets Standard for Land Use on Solar Sites

Authored by agriculture leaders, a new law sends a clear signal to the solar industry regarding a preferred practice for use of land on solar sites. State-wide standard will meaningfully help Minnesota’s bees, monarchs, pheasants, and songbirds, by providing abundant, high-quality foraging habitat on solar sites.

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Transportation & Land Use

Transportation & Land Use

Electric Vehicles 101

How do I charge them? How far can they drive? How much do they cost? Learn the basics of electric vehicles by flipping through our Everything EVs slides featuring EV expert Jukka Kukkonen.

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December 6 at Noon CST| Everything EVs Webinar

Join our electric vehicle expert Jukka Kukkonen on December 6 and ask every question you’ve ever had about EVs. Jukka Kukkonen is an electric vehicle expert at Fresh Energy who has worked extensively with auto manufacturers, private businesses, local governments, and EV owners. After giving a quick presentation, Jukka will answer your questions and help get you charged up about going electric.

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#SaferStreets are better for businesses, families, and the community

One of the biggest challenges in our current transportation system is the way our streets are designed. In many parts of our communities the only safe option for people to get around town is to drive a car, raising costs and limiting options for businesses, families, and the community as a whole. Last year, St Paul sought to address this issue by creating and passing a long-term plan for expanding safe transportation options throughout the city. This bike plan established a comprehensive network of safe bike routes – making it easier for people to reduce congestion, wear and tear, and their associated costs on our streets. Now, with a long term plan in place, business leaders, city officials, and state lawmakers are standing up to support safer streets for St Paul.

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