Rural Renewable Energy
Rural residents often lack access to clean, renewable energy. Cooperative and municipal electricity utilities are some of the most ardent opponents of state and federal policies supporting cost-saving efficiency improvements and renewable energies. The Izaak Walton League is using our expertise in small, community-scale renewable energy and conservation programs to bring these economic, health, and environmental benefits to rural communities.
Renewable Power For and By the People
Bringing the benefits of solar power to more people and communities is a challenge. Solar power can seem more technical, intimidating, or expensive than it is, and new opportunities struggle with broad commercial adoption as a result. Frequently those who do adopt solar power in their community have the deck stacked against them. They fail to get compensated for the benefits of their generation while unfairly measured against entrenched fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas.
Minnesota took a big step toward levelling the playing field with the nation’s first effort to calculate the true “Value of Solar” – including broader benefits to society. The state then set a methodology utilities could use to set a tariff for solar consumers. The League helped Minnesota develop this Value of Solar methodology, and continues to ensure its fair implementation.
At the same time, Community Solar Gardens have become extremely popular and cost competitive. Community Solar Gardens allow community members to share in the benefits of solar panels while capturing the economies of scale related to a single, more centralized installation. This is a much welcomed innovation that has reduced the cost of entry into the solar market and made solar power much more accessible to the public. But gaps remain. One of the greatest is for low-income utility customers because these Community Solar Gardens often still come with either an upfront cost or credit worthiness barrier. In response, the League is partnering with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance to build an effective low-income Community Solar Garden model with an eye on replicability.