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Title: Local Energy Matters: Solar Market Development in Duluth, MN
Funding Opportunity: Solar Market Pathways
SunShot Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: Duluth, MN
Amount Awarded: $209,005
Awardee Cost Share: $52,266
Ecolibrium3’s “Local Energy Matters” Solar Market Pathways project is working with state and local stakeholders to further develop residential rooftop, community, and commercial solar projects in Duluth, MN. The project focuses on reducing soft costs through community policy implementation and simplified solar permitting and interconnection. Demonstration projects, which can be replicated across the city,will help identify models for design, construction, and financing for solar projects. Over three years, one megawatt of capacity will be installed with a cost reduction goal of 50%. For more information on this award and the Solar Market Pathways program, visit their website.
As a first step, Ecolibrium3 established the Solar Market Advancement Resource Team (SMART), which was made up of stakeholders from government, business, finance, utility, and university communities, and formed working groups on policy and planning, financing, and project development. Ecolibrium3, together with the City of Duluth, also hosted a two-day community energy charrette to educate residents on state-based energy incentive deadlines. The project team will work on revising Duluth’s comprehensive plan and participate in a year-long land use planning process to incorporate solar practices throughout the city, including new housing, historic neighborhoods and brownfields. The cross-sector, five-year solar deployment plan (SDP) will adapt best practices from the region with the goal of reducing total installed costs by 50% from the measured baseline.
Ecolibrium3 is also working to develop a framework for developing demonstration projects in the residential rooftop, community solar, and commercial/industrial/institutional sectors by establishing a baseline analysis compiling historical data on solar in Duluth in past 10 years. The team is using this information to combat local perceptions on cost and availability, which are seen to be the primary barriers to solar PV adoption in Duluth. Ecolibrium3 advanced cooperation with the local utility and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to develop best practices on inspection of solar and combined a solar training by Minnesota Power and MREA for city inspectors in Duluth and other communities.