March 2011 – Volume IX, Number 3

Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Emily Kissane.

–ACROSS THE FIELD

–MEETINGS/TRAININGS

–OPPORTUNITIES

–MISCELLANEOUS

Across the Field — “Rural Urban Interdependencies Forum: Understanding Linkages That Drive Job Creation”

Urban and suburban citizens and policymakers, hear ye, hear ye.

Rural places and people steward the water, food, and energy upon which we all depend.  And a new study recently completed by Kate Searls, a researcher with Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., with assistance from faculty and extension economists at the University of Minnesota, indicates that the vigor of rural economies is essential to our state’s overall economic well-being, including rural urban linkages that drive job creation (or loss).

Learn more about this and other new insights and key tools in the economic development and job creation front at the “Rural Urban Interdependencies Forum: Understanding Linkages That Drive Job Creation” — April 5, 2011, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. (Cost: $25. Students are admitted for free but everyone must register at: http://www.regonline.com/ruralurban)

Results of the new research report, “Pilot Study: Estimating Rural and Urban Minnesota’s Interdependencies” will be shared at the Forum. The results quantitatively illustrate the economic importance of rural Minnesota to all of Minnesota’s economic health and well being. The study is particularly successful in showing how urban Minnesota benefits, or loses, alongside rural Minnesota when rural prospers or declines. The research begins to provide measures of how rural urban linkages drive wealth creation and innovation in a state’s economy.

MRP, Inc., USDA Rural Development and the Blandin Foundation provided financial assistance for the research as a part of the larger Rural Urban Connections project which concludes in April after 18 months of activity. Copies of the research report will be distributed at the Forum along with a copy of the second report by MRP, Inc., “Rural Urban Connections and Job Readiness.” You can download copies of both reports at http://www.minnesotaruralpartners.org by early March. (Registration for the April 5 Forum also includes copies of both reports.)

Participants in the Forum will also hear updates on the Economic Competitiveness + Industry Clusters work led by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, State and Local Policy Program, and the uses of IMPLAN™ data for Economic Impact Analysis to help decision-makers respond to changes in economies.  The University of Minnesota Extension Community Economics team carries out this input-output analysis in communities across Minnesota, alongside their colleagues in the Applied Economics Department.

The event includes a post-Forum reception to honor Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. as it closes its doors this year after 15 years of service to Minnesota and the nation.

Date and Time of Forum: April 5, 1 to 4:30 p.m., with reception to follow from 4:30 to 6 p.m..

Location:

Continuing Education and Conference Center

University of Minnesota Twin Cities – St. Paul Campus

1890 Buford Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

Directions & Map: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/CECC/

Cost: $25. Students are admitted for Free but everyone must register at: http://www.regonline.com/ruralurban

Agenda:

12:30 p.m.        Registration opens

1  p.m.              Welcome

1:05 p.m.          Overview of the Interdependencies study and Rural Urban project

–          Kate Searls, MRP, Inc. & Jane Leonard, Bush Foundation

1:35 p.m.          Overview of Cluster work

–          Burke Murphy, MN Dept. of Employment & Economic Development & Lee Munnich, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, State & Local Policy Program

2:10 pm            Overview of IMPLAN/Economic Output Analysis

–          Brigid Tuck & David Nelson, University of Minnesota Extension Community Economics,  & Bill Lazarus, University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics

2:45 p.m.          Refreshment Break

3 p.m.               Combined panel & audience discussion to discuss rural urban intersections, applications & implications for economic development analysis, decision-making, economic development policy, and rural urban policy

3:50 p.m.          Table Talk to discuss local, regional, state implications & applications

4:05 p.m.          Report back from tables and wrap-up

4:30 to 6 p.m.   Reception

Study abstract:

Since October 2009, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. has hosted a national pilot initiative, with USDA Rural Development, to document the power of rural urban connections and resource sharing to foster increased innovation and job and wealth creation for the state as a whole.

The research paper, “Pilot Study: Estimating Rural and Urban Minnesota’s Interdependencies” represents a critical portion of the pilot initiative. It quantitatively illustrates the economic importance of rural Minnesota to all of Minnesota’s economic health and well being. It is particularly successful in showing how urban Minnesota benefits, or loses, alongside rural Minnesota when rural prospers or declines. The pilot study begins to provide measures of how rural urban linkages drive wealth creation and innovation in a state’s economy.

The study begins by using cluster analysis tools provided by the Innovation in American Regions Project to arrive at estimates of the distribution of jobs between the Twin Cities region (urban) and the rest of Minnesota (rural). It selects one cluster (manufacturing) and conducts input-output analysis (using IMPLAN software) to arrive at estimates of the linkages between rural and urban businesses and economies.

Finally, it compares two clusters (manufacturing and agribusiness) as to their rural urban linkages and their general contributions to Minnesota’s economic vitality. Despite the numerous ways in which this research could be improved and extended, it is clear that this approach has enormous value for improving understanding of how and when rural urban linkages drive wealth and job creation and innovation in the state’s economy.

FUNDING

Green Giant Green Awards. The Green Awards Contest seeks to engage the collective public by introducing local “Green Giants” — people who are creating a positive environmental impact and inspiring others to take their own steps toward sustainability.  The Contest is open only to individual legal residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years of age or older as of the date of entry.

Entries involve submitting a short (1 minute) video and short (100 words) essay in one of four categories:

* Green Civic Leader

* Green Entrepreneur

* Green Local Organizer

* Green Parent

Entries must be received by March 6, 2011.  There are 12 Finalist Prizes, which include trip for two to Los Angeles, CA to attend The Green Awards Celebration. There are also 8 Runnner-up First Prizes of $2,500 and 4 Grand Prizes of $25,000 each.  For more details see: https://www.thegreenawards.com/

Mn/DOT Community Roadside Landscaping Partnership Program. The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Community Roadside Landscaping Partnership Program is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to communities that are interested in landscaping state highway rights of way. This is a reimbursement program, not a grant. The program has three goals: (1) roadside beautification, (2) community improvement, and (3) Environmental stewardship.

For purposes of this program, eligible ‘Communities’ include counties, home rule charters, statutory cities or towns, and townships. Ineligible applicants will not be considered unless they are sponsored by a community or other unit of government that can execute and honor a cooperative agreement with Mn/DOT.  Funds awarded under this program must be used for roadside landscaping located on state trunk highway rights of way with fee or easement title.  Available funds are awarded on a first come – first serve basis. For more details, see the application manual at: http://tinyurl.com/6gevwrm or call (651) 366-4617 to speak with Mn/DOT’s Landscape Partnership Program Coordinator.

US EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. The US EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, supports and empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program assists recipients in building collaborative partnerships to help them understand and address environmental and public health issues in their communities. Successful collaborative partnerships involve not only well-designed strategic plans to build, maintain and sustain the partnerships, but also working towards addressing the local environmental and public health issues.

Grant applications are invited through March 31, 2011 for $1.2 million in funding to support projects designed to research, educate, empower and enable communities to understand and address local environmental and public health issues.  Environmental Justice Small Grants funding is available for two categories of projects

* 40 grants of up to $25,000 each to support projects that address a community’s local environmental issues through collaborative partnerships, and;

* 4 grants of up to $50,000 each to support research on the environmental and human health impacts of exposure to multiple sources of pollution in communities.

For more information see:  http://tinyurl.com/4u8aaqo or click on http://tinyurl.com/5uhaccq for the application guidance manual.

–Acres for America Grants. Acres for America is National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s premiere land conservation program, and was established to provide urgently needed funding for projects that conserve large, landscape-level areas that are important habitat for fish, wildlife, and plants through acquisition of interest in real property. Acres for America was launched in 2005 with Walmart Stores, Inc. the founding partner. Walmart’s goal as a founding partner is to offset the footprint of their domestic facilities on at least an acre by acre basis through permanent conservation of important wildlife habitats.  Approximately $2.5 million will be available annually through 2014 for conservation investments.  Annual pre-proposal deadlines are April 1 and September 1. For more information see:  http://tinyurl.com/64j3qax
Electronic Health Record Loan Program applications now available. The program helps finance EHR software, hardware, training and support. Loans are six-year, no-interest with the first year’s repayment deferred. Eligible entities: federally qualified health centers; community clinics; nonprofit or local units of government hospitals; individual or small group physician practices that are primarily focused on primary care; nursing facilities and local public health departments. Priority will be given to: critical access hospitals; federally qualified health centers; entities that serve uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved individuals (urban or rural); and individual or small group practices that are primarily focused on primary care. Applications for the Electronic Health Record Loan Program http://tinyurl.com/668aj7c are due April 1.

Joyce Foundation Grants. The Joyce Foundation supports efforts to protect the natural environment of the Great Lakes, to reduce poverty and violence in the region, and to ensure that its people have access to good schools, decent jobs, and a diverse and thriving culture. We are especially interested in improving public policies, because public systems such as education and welfare directly affect the lives of so many people, and because public policies help shape private sector decisions about jobs, the environment, and the health of our communities. The foundation focuses its grant making on initiatives that promise to have an impact on the Great Lakes region, specifically the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Applications are due April 11, 2011 for consideration in July 2011. For more details, see http://www.joycefdn.org/

MEETINGS/TRAININGS

–Minnesota 2011 Entrepreneur Kickoff on March 3. Minnesota High Tech Association is proud to join investors and entrepreneurs from across the state at the Minnesota 2011 Entrepreneur Kickoff.  This statewide gathering will feature the Minnesota Angel Network, Project Skyway and Minnesota’s Start-up Competitions.  The event begins Thursday, March 3 at Base Camp, Fort Snelling, MN 55111. For more information and to register visit Minnesota.Tie.org. http://minnesota.tie.org/

–Bremer Bank in partnership with Nonprofits Assistance Fund (NAF) is offering two nonprofit financial training workshops. Calculating True Program Costs will be held Tuesday, April 5, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Bremer Bank in Willmar.  Fee $35.  The second workshop is Fundamentals of Nonprofit Finance to be held Tuesday, June 7, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Bremer Bank in Marshall. Fee:  $35.  To register go to the NAF website at:  http://www.nonprofitsassistancefund.org/

Minnesota High Tech Association Spring Conference INNOVATION IN MINNESOTA – Fueling Our High Tech Economy” will be held on April 14, 2011 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  For more information go to:  http://www.mhta.org/spring_conference.php

OPPORTUNITIES

A call for Minnesota artists to participate in its exhibit: “Art As Gateway for Community Engagement: Sustaining Nature and Culture” at the 2011 Living Green Expo (held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul on May 7 – 8, 2011. The exhibit will feature artwork in a variety of green and sustainable media as well as performance art. Installed in the State Fair’s Fine Arts Building during the Expo, the exhibit will provide a catalog with photos and descriptions of the artwork for all attendees.

The deadline to submit work is March 10, 2011. Final selections will be made by March 15, and selected artists will be posted on the Living Green Expo website in April.  More information is available at: http://tinyurl.com/66u8oagGuidelines and submission information are available by download from http://tinyurl.com/5wu8uwr

2011 Environmental Initiative Awards. The Minnesota Environmental Initiative (MEI) knows that many of Minnesota’s most innovative environmental projects have succeeded as a result of collaboration, and in 1994 established the Environmental Initiative Awards honor these partnerships, to inspire other organizations to create similar successful projects, and to encourage innovative approaches to environmental problem solving.

On May 26, 2011, the Environmental Initiative Awards will celebrate innovative projects that have harnessed the power of partnership to produce tangible, positive environmental outcomes in Minnesota. Fifteen finalist projects will be honored, five winners will be announced and one finalist will be selected by the public to receive the highly sought-after Partnership of the Year award.

Nominations for partnership-based projects will be accepted until March 18, 2011 in the following categories:
* Energy and Climate Protection
* Environmental Education
* Green Business and Environmental Management
* Natural Resource Protection and Restoration
* Sustainable Communities

Project nominations submitted by Friday, March 4, 2011 are entered in an early bird prize drawing for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20K digital camera.  For more information or to apply go to:  http://tinyurl.com/5stw53u or contact Georgia Rubenstein at MEI at (612) 334-3388 ext. 107 or grubenstein@mn-ei.org with questions.

US EPA National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. US EPA invites applications for the 10th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. This competition is open to public- and private-sector entities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially, and economically. Winners will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2011.  The entry deadline is April 6, 2011Applicants may be public- or private-sector entities, but all applications must include a public-sector partner. Applications for public-nonprofit activities are welcome but must be submitted by the public-sector participant.  Applications must be submitted using the official entry form. There is one entry form for all four categories. The categories are:
* Programs, Policies, and Regulations: This category recognizes regulatory and policy initiatives that support the principles of smart growth. EPA is particularly interested in actions that remove barriers to or provide incentives for smart growth.
* Smart Growth and Green Building: This category recognizes development that combines smart growth and green building approaches as building design and materials are integrated with land use and location efficiency. Projects may be single or multiple buildings.
* Civic Places: This category recognizes projects in the public realm that improve a community’s sense of place while adding environmental and economic benefits. EPA is particularly interested in projects that create well-designed and vibrant public spaces.
* Rural Smart Growth: This category recognizes communities that preserve and encourage rural economies and character. EPA is interested in thriving rural areas that have used smart growth approaches to encourage economic development and job creation, improve transportation choices and housing options, and support the economic viability of working lands.

Applicants may apply in only one category for a given project.  An “Overall Excellence” winner will be chosen from the four categories by the review panels.  Significant activity must have occurred in the project or program between April 6, 2006, and April 6, 2011.  For more information and entry forms go to:  http://tinyurl.com/4vmhr2t

The average beverage vending machine costs around $300 in energy costs to operate each year. By installing a small, simple device called a VendingMiser on your machine, you can reduce a machine’s energy usage by 46% and save approximately $130 per year on energy costs! Typically a VendingMiser costs roughly $179, but this spring, you and your organization or business can participate in a statewide VendingMiser Bulk-Buy Program that will reduce this cost to $164 or less.

To participate, simply fill out this online form by May 2, 2011 at midnight: http://tinyurl.com/VendingMiserOrders

The average beverage vending machine runs more often than is needed to keep drinks cold and attract customers. A VendingMiser reduces operation and compressor maintenance costs on your machines, all with a potential payback of 16 months or less! With this bulk-buy campaign and with numerous utilities across the state offering rebates of $50 – $75 per VendingMiser purchase, participating organizations can shorten this payback even further (see list of Minnesota utilities offering VendingMiser rebates and the rebate amounts here: http://tinyurl.com/VendingMiserRebates).

This statewide VendingMiser Bulk Buy Program is an effort of the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and EnergyMisers, LLC. We’re encouraging businesses, schools, local governments, and anyone else with a beverage vending machine or snack machine to join in and save. The program was a huge success in 2010, with nearly 600 units ordered and installed.  To learn more about the VendingMisers and find all the resources you need to take action, visit http://miser.mncerts.org or email vendingmiser@cleanenergyresourceteams.org.

RETAP (Minnesota Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program). The Minnesota Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program (Minnesota RETAP) provides no-cost, non-regulatory energy and waste assessments for Minnesota’s small to mid-sized businesses and public and private institutions.

Assessments include an on-site visit to your facility from a team of RETAP retirees with emphasis on finding opportunities to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and conservation, and reduce operating costs.  Since RETAP’s start in 2001, well over 200 Minnesota businesses and institutions have benefited from RETAP assessments. Each assessment yields a written report tailored for the client that identifies high priority changes and estimated financial and environmental savings from each recommendation. Clients have ranged from city halls to grocery stores and from schools to hardware stores.  While you are under no obligation to implement the report recommendations, a high percentage of surveyed clients do implement many of them.  Average estimated potential savings from implementation of RETAP recommendations for assessments completed in 2009 and 2010 is over $11,000 per year per client. To find out more or to request a free assessment go to: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/retap or contact Mike Vennewitz, RETAP Coordinator, at 612/781-1307 or mvennewitz@yahoo.com

MISCELLANEOUS

–A MinnPost tool lets you decide how to fix the Minnesota deficit.  Passing the FY 2012-13 Budget is the primary task of the 2011 Legislature — a task made more challenging by the $6.2 billion budget shortfall. MinnPost has created an online tool that lets you try your hand in balancing the budget. The Minnesota Budget Project is one of the resources used by MinnPost to develop this tool.    Visit MinnPost’s Budget Balancer: http://tinyurl.com/6e988nx

— An overview of Governor Dayton’s budget recommendations in areas including: revenues, education, health care, the safety net, higher education, public safety, government efficiency, arts and culture, jobs, housing and transit can be found at:

Governor Dayton’s budget details http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/gov-bill-11
Fact sheet describing the impact of Governor Dayton’s major income tax proposals on sample families, prepared by the Minnesota Department of Revenue http://tinyurl.com/4pz2bl3

--With booming farm income and robust demand for farmland, Federal Reserve Bank Tenth District farmland values soared in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions. The survey of  253 bankers reported that District cropland values posted double-digit gains from year-ago levels, and ranchland values recorded their sharpest increase in two years. Find a summary of the results and selected statistics at: http://tinyurl.com/4tdglmb

–Measuring the Indirect Land-Use Change Associated with Increased Biofuel Feedstock Production: A Review of Modeling Efforts: Report to Congress.  The House Report 111-181 accompanying H.R. 2997, the 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, requested the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Economist, to conduct a study of land-use changes for renewable fuels and feedstocks used to produce them. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge of the drivers of land-use change and describes the analytic methods used to estimate the impact of biofuel feedstock production on land use. The models used to assess policy impacts have incorporated some of the major uncertainties inherent in making projections of future conditions, but some uncertainties will continue exist. The larger the impact of domestic biofuels feedstock production on commodity prices and the availability of exports, the larger the international land-use effects of likely to be. The amount of pressure placed on land internationally will depend in part on how much of the land needed for biofuel production is met through an expansion of agricultural land in the United States. If crop yield per acre increases through more intensive management or new crop varieties, then less land is needed to grow a particular amount of that crop. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AP/AP054/

–Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America. The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America is a mapping application that provides a spatial interpretation of county-level, economic and social conditions along four broad categories of socioeconomic factors: people (using newly released demographic data from the American Community Survey, including age, race and ethnicity, migration and immigration, education, household size and family composition), jobs (using economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, including information on employment trends, unemployment, industrial composition, and household income), agriculture (using indicators from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, including number and size of farms, operator characteristics, off-farm income, and government payments), and county classifications (using typologies such as the rural-urban continuum, economic dependence, persistent poverty, population loss, and other ERS county codes). Maps are interactive and also provided for download; raw data are provided for download. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/ruralatlas/

–AMBER WAVES, March 2011, VOL. 9, NO. 1.  Amber Waves presents the broad scope of ERS’s research and analysis. The magazine covers the economics of agriculture, food and nutrition, the food industry, trade, rural America, and farm-related environmental topics. Available on the Internet and in print, Amber Waves is issued in print four times a year (March, June, September, and December). The Internet edition, or “eZine,” includes links to web-only resources, such as podcasts and additional articles. See:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/March11/

–Solar Ready Building Design Guidelines for Minnesota. Recently prepared for the Minneapolis Saint Paul Solar Cities Program (http://tinyurl.com/4lbl5es) as funded by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), are two useful resources that can be downloaded for free. (The text below is modified from the first document listed.)

The Solar Ready Buildings Guide presents solar ready building guidelines that are tailored to the Twin Cities region specifically and the Midwest/Minnesota in general. The guidelines are a regional supplement to the Solar Ready Buildings Planning Guide http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/46078.pdf published by NREL in December 2009.

Solar Ready Design Guidelines for the Twin Cities, Minnesota can be found at http://tinyurl.com/4ehsevs (26 pages).  This guide is designed to help Minnesota architects, engineers, contractors and their clients understand and plan for future solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. These guidelines include recommendations related to solar system siting, roof orientation, structural load profiles, visual appearance, co-location issues with HVAC equipment, type of roof, location on roof, conduit locations and racking alternates. This is to be used during the planning and design phases of the project.

Solar Ready Construction Specifications can be found at http://tinyurl.com/4jpk4jd (8 pages).  This is a model specification for solar ready construction and is to be included in the Project Specification document.

The Design Guidelines and Construction Specifications are companion documents to be used together. Starting with the Design Guidelines in the initial stages of project planning and the finalization of building design, the owner and building team make decisions informing the construction process. The Construction Specifications, along with the drawings and other specification sections, document these decisions so that solar ready systems can be easily incorporated during the construction process.

The design guidelines/specifications address two specific building types:

1. Urban-sized new single family and duplex construction with pitched roofs, and;

2. Flat-roof structures one to four stories that could be multi-family housing, commercial/office or mixed-use buildings. Taken together, these two building types comprise the vast majority of new construction in the Twin Cities region.

Other building types can be designed as solar ready, but the design process is usually more complex and is thus not directly addressed in these documents. The basic principles of solar ready design are, however, the same for all building types – designing for a rooftop solar area, maintaining a direct chase or connection to the buildings mechanical and electric systems, and space in the utility area for mechanical and storage components.

The audience for these documents includes:
* Public Agencies; State (i.e. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency), counties and cities
* Neighborhood organizations, District Councils, and Community Development Corporations
* Non-profit and for profit development community
* Owners, architects, builders and contractors

–Four new resources related to community solar energy (3) and community wind energy (1) are available for free downloading as described below.

1.  Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments.  This 172-page Second Edition of this guidebook will be useful to local governments interested in advancing solar energy in their communities.  Solar Power Your Community can be downloaded directly in PDF format from http://tinyurl.com/4vfuv2j

“The U.S. Department of Energy developed this comprehensive resource to assist local governments and stakeholders in building sustainable local solar markets. This second edition of the guide was updated to include new market developments and innovations for advancing local solar markets that have emerged since the first edition was released in 2009. This updated edition also contains the most recent lessons and successes from the original 25 Solar America Cities and other communities promoting solar energy. The guide introduces a range of policy and program options that have been successfully field tested in cities and counties around the country. The guide describes each policy or program, followed by more information on:
* Benefits: Identifies benefits from implementing the policy or program.
* Implementation Tips and Options: Outlines various tips and options for designing and implementing the policy or program.
* Examples: Highlights experiences from communities that have successfully implemented the policy or program.
* Additional References and Resources: Lists additional reports, references, and tools that offer more information on the topic, where applicable.
This guide can help stimulate ideas or provide a framework for a comprehensive solar plan for a community. DOE recognizes that there is no one path to solar market development. This guide therefore introduces a range of policy and program options that can help a community build a local solar infrastructure. Communities can tailor their approach to fit their particular needs and market barriers.”   Go to:  http://solaramericacommunities.energy.gov/resources/guide_for_local_governments/

2.  A Guide to Community Solar. This 56-page guide prepared for the National Renewable Energy Lab of the US Department of Energy was published in November 2010.  “This guide is designed as a resource for those who want to develop community solar projects, from community organizers or solar energy advocates to government officials or utility managers. By exploring the range of incentives and policies while providing examples of operational community solar projects, this guide will help communities to plan and implement successful local energy projects. In addition, by highlighting some of the policy best practices, this guide suggests changes in the regulatory landscape that could significantly boost community solar installations across the country.
The information in this guide is organized around three sponsorship models: utility-sponsored projects, projects sponsored by special purpose entities – businesses formed for the purpose of producing community solar power, and non-profit sponsored projects. The guide addresses issues common to all project models, as well as issues unique to each model.
The guide begins with examples of the three project sponsorship models, discussing the legal and financial implications of each model. This is followed by a discussion of some state policies that encourage community solar – ways for multiple individuals to share in the benefits of a single solar installation. The guide then reviews some of the tax and financing issues that impact community solar projects. While the guide cannot offer legal or tax advice, the authors hope to provide an outline of the legal hurdles and pitfalls that every project organizer should consider. Finally, the “Getting Started” section provides readers with practical tools and tips for planning their own project. The Appendices provide a more detailed comparison of business structures suitable for special purpose entities pursuing solar projects and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Model Community Renewables Program Rules.”  Go to:  http://tinyurl.com/4ngmeqv

3.  The Solarize Guidebook: A community guide to collective purchasing of residential PV systems. This 28-page January 2011 guide was also developed for the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. It “is intended as a road map for project planners and solar advocates who want to convert “interest” into “action,” to break through market barriers and permanently transform the market for residential solar installations in their communities. It describes the key elements of the Solarize campaigns in Portland, [OR] and offers several program refinements from projects beyond Portland. The guidebook provides lessons, considerations, and step-by-step plans for project organizers to replicate the success of Solarize Portland.”  Go to:  http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/50440.pdf

4.  Community Wind: Once Again Pushing the Envelope of Project Finance. This January 2011 guide was funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and focuses on issues related to the funding of community wind systems, including several alternative financing options.

“This report describes each of these innovative new financing structures in some detail, using a case-study approach. The purpose is twofold: (1) to disseminate useful information on these new financial structures, most of which are widely replicable; and (2) to highlight the recent policy changes – many of them temporary unless extended – that have facilitated this innovation.

Although the community wind market is currently only a small sub-sector of the U.S. wind market – as defined here, less than 2% of the overall market at the end of 2009 – its small size belies its relevance to the broader market. As such, the information provided in this report has relevance beyond its direct application to the community wind sector.

The next two sections of this report briefly summarize how most community wind projects in the U.S. have been financed historically (i.e., prior to this latest wave of innovation) and describe the recent federal policy changes that have enabled a new wave of financial innovation to occur, respectively. Section 4 contains brief case studies of how each of the five projects mentioned above were financed, noting the financial significance of each. Finally, Section 5 concludes by distilling a number of general observations or pertinent lessons learned from the experiences of these five projects.” Go to:  http://eetd.lbl.gov/EA/EMP/reports/lbnl-4193e.pdf

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