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Just Solar Values

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The "Solar Revolution" has come to Minnesota! With it comes the promise of renewable local energy, and the possibility of a sustainable future for all. But this won't happen if we allow solar businesses to move forward without a careful examination of the values it brings to our communities.

Over the past year MNIPL and our partners have developed the following values statement, which articulates the core values we are using to guide our work on Community Solar Gardens and other renewable energy opportunities. Communities across the state, in the Arrowhead region and south central Minnesota, have adopted and refined these values, as they work to build just, renewable energy in their communities.

Together, we envision a culture where people connect and cooperate to create clean, affordable, renewable and equitable energy systems where people can access the energy and the wealth created by generating that energy. By 2030 or before, we envision that a majority of the total energy generated in Minnesota will be locally owned and renewable.

Our intention is to create Community Solar Gardens that:

  • are accessible to everyone, regardless of income or credit score

  • build jobs in the local community (including job training to install the arrays)

  • protect natural resources

  • tell a new story about what energy is and how it can be created and community owned

We will do this by:

  • Transforming our culture by embodying compassion, valuing people for the unique strengths they bring to this work.

 

  • Respecting differences and be persistent, diligent and rigorous in our pursuit of social, economic and environmental justice.

 

  • Building holistic campaigns that model the kinds of equity among people and the earth we hope to see in the wider world.

 

  • Assuming the best in others and share the abundance of resources within and among our community.  

 

  • Encouraging humor, honesty and urgency in our actions and communications.

 

  • Remembering and learning from past and current social, economic and environmental systemic injustice, and address root problems to the best of our abilities.

We offer this expanded set of core values and accompanying questions as a starting point for communities who are considering investing in community solar projects:

Will your project….

1. Create inclusive, egalitarian, and diverse social and economic partnerships that support the development of renewables and energy efficiency, as well as the involvement of neighborhood residents in designing, building or using the project. We ask:

  • Does the project's financial design maximize the ability of low-income residents to purchase or subscribe to part of the array ?

  • Does the developer's approach to the project promote community involvement?

  • Will the project employ people from low income or historically marginalized communities, paying a living wage and helping to close the employment gap?

2. Value the natural environment as much as the human one, realizing the mutual interdependence of each to survive and thrive. We ask:

  • What is the impact of the array location? What are compatible, concurrent, and sustainable uses of the land?

  • What is the value of a CSG to the community socially and economically compared to what is being displaced or might otherwise be there?

  • What action has been taken to care for the land such as preventing runoff into rivers?

  • How can the CSG maintain or enhance biodiversity?

3. Create or deepen partnerships among faith communities and between houses of worship and their surrounding neighborhoods. We ask:

  • What is the impact of the overall project on community values?

  • Can houses of worship recruit subscribers in their neighborhoods if the array is not on site?

  • Can faith communities come together to provide a host site for an array?

  • Can faith community members who own business sites participate as anchor tenants to help make the project work financially or to serve as a host site?

  • Can participants lead by example?

4. Promote local economic growth and enhance equity. We ask:

  • Can the project use developers that are based locally or have local offices/staff?

  • Can a local labor force be used?

  • Can this project help to close the employment gap by hiring people of color or other historically marginalized groups?

  • Can the CSG be located close to (and even possibly be visible by) the community of subscribers to strengthen the connection of subscribers to the project and to their action on climate change as something they are doing “close to home”?

5. Apply transformation values to an economic process.  We ask:

  • How can this project serve as an example of, or catalyst for change?

  • How will a faith community  that is involved in the project educate its members on the connections between climate change and economic justice?

 

Contact communitysolar@mnipl.org or call (612) 465-9459 to learn more!