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New Report: Lessons and Concepts for Advancing Community Wind

December 14, 2009
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Lessons & Concepts for Advancing Community Wind, released today by The Minnesota Project, seeks to advance the development of community-based wind projects in the United States by drawing keys to success and policy recommendations from three compelling Midwestern case studies.
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Wind energy continues to experience double digit growth rates because of the relatively cheap technology and the widespread availability of wind resources, and numerous studies have now shown that locally-owned wind projects produce disproportionate benefits to the local community and region where they are built. This presents community wind energy development as a stand-out opportunity for communities across America to pursue locally-owned projects that will help meet their electricity needs and contribute to energy independence while also providing tremendous economic benefits.
Yet, relatively few are familiar with concept and structure of community wind. Moreover, many economic and policy barriers currently stand in the way of further development of community wind. The first section of Lessons and Concepts for Advancing Community Wind provides three case studies of community wind projects that have pioneered different paths to a community wind destination. These case studies tell the stories of Winona County and the City of Willmar in Minnesota and Miner County in South Dakota. Community leaders in all three communities worked tirelessly (and continue to do so in the case of Winona) to take an idea from concept to completion. Each experienced numerous and varying hurdles and developed different strategies to overcome those hurdles.
The second section of the report distills the experience of Winona, Miner and Willmar into several keys to success for community wind projects. Despite the different paths and experiences, three common characteristics define these case studies: vision, inclusion, and persistence. Yet community-wind project success is not simply a measure of community preparation or project leader determination. The presence of numerous barriers stands as the rule, rather than the exception to community-owned wind projects. Understanding those barriers is the first step to addressing them on a project level as well as policy level.
The third and last section of the paper outlines solutions to further advance community wind projects on a state-by-state and national level. Public policies have the potential to effectively address many of the roadblocks and difficulties identified in the case studies, and some non-policy solutions will play a major role, as well. Even simple changes in regulation stand to yield significant improvements in the opportunities and viability of community-based wind projects—especially in a sector as highly shaped by regulation and policy as electricity.
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Report Contents:
  • Section I: Community Wind Case Studies
    • Winona County, MN
    • City of Willmar, MN
    • Miner County, SD
  • Section II: Keys to Success
    • Visioning & Planning
    • Project Leadership
    • Involving the Community
    • Financing & Pricing
  • Section III: Solutions for Advancing Community Wind
    • Dispersed Generation Studies
    • Siting & Permitting Standardization
    • Establishing or Improving C-BED Legislation
    • Rural Utility Service Loans
    • Investment Tax Credit or Cash Grant
    • Net Metering
    • Advanced Renewable Tariffs
    • Standard Offer Contracts
    • Increasing Renewable Portfolio Standards
Download the report >>
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