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Letter: City has chance to lead with solar

To the Editor:

I spoke to the City Council this week in support of a Red Wing community solar garden across from the Anderson Center. I’ve had the honor to speak with many community members and businesses about their desire to work with the city to help meet its 30 percent renewable energy by 2027 goal by leasing city-owned land to allow creation of a community solar installation at this gateway to your great city.

I commend the city as a longtime leader in setting strong renewable energy goals in its comprehensive plan, well ahead of most other communities.

Fresh Energy is a Minnesota grown not-for-profit clean energy policy organization. We are nonpartisan and for 25 years have been working to create opportunities for more Minnesotans and companies to compete and win in the clean energy market. For the sake of kids growing up today, leaders need to take big, practical actions to shift our economies to clean energy. Fresh Energy sees community solar gardens as a nation-leading way Red Wing can take the next step in its environmental leadership.

Voters across Minnesota overwhelmingly support a transition from coal to clean energy. Bipartisan polling shows 91 percent of voters select solar energy as their top preference for new energy. Minnesota’s 2013 Solar Energy Jobs Act requires Xcel to offer customers the opportunity to participate in community solar gardens. People now have a choice to support a solar garden at an ideal location in their community. Solar garden subscribers will get monetary credits on their Xcel Energy bills.

Many Red Wing families and businesses are ready to take this next step to help replace coal with zero-carbon solar electricity.

Red Wing will be well-served by establishing itself as a leader in solar energy. The city-owned land at Highways 61 and 19 provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate stewardship of natural resources. Businesses sharing these values may well choose to locate on the site, as there will be plenty of land left for light-industrial development. Perhaps a company in the clean energy sector would choose to develop adjacent to the solar garden.

To learn more, please join me for a Solar Power Now forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday June 2 at Red Wing Public Library.

J. Drake Hamilton

St. Paul

J. Drake Hamilton is the science policy director for Fresh Energy.