One of my roles as the Southeast Metro Regional Manager with Conservation Minnesota is to find out what communities are interested in pursuing at the local level. Whether that means meeting with our members over coffee or sitting down one-on-one with local elected officials, everyone has something they are passionate about when it comes to our Great Outdoors. It’s my job to figure out what that is and how I can help.
During one of those meetings with a former Rosemount City Council member, she had told me that she wanted to make a lasting impact on the health and longevity of her community while in office. I suggested that starting a citizen advisory commission that works with their City Council on local conservation initiatives and programs could be one way to accomplish that goal. Conservation commissions that are currently up and running have been very popular and effective throughout Greater Minnesota and the Metro Area. They do everything from progressing successful programs like GreenStep Cities, to working with Xcel Energy to create an Energy Action Plan that helps to increase energy conservation and support renewable energy projects in the community. In just a couple of short months after that meeting, the Environment and Sustainability Task Force was established by the City Council and eight Rosemount residents were appointed.
The Task Force now works to engage the community around recycling, energy conservation, moving the city towards a more sustainable future, water quality, and generally increasing the quality of life. One of their more recent accomplishments is becoming the newest additions to Partners in Energy through Xcel Energy. I’m lucky enough to be one of the partners involved in that program, and I’m very excited to work with Rosemount to help them achieve their energy goals. The great thing about Partners in Energy is that it’s a free program that helps communities take more ownership of their energy use and ways that they can better plan and implement energy conservation. The purpose is to bring a variety of stakeholders together to form an Energy Action Team that can pool their knowledge of energy, community trends, and local businesses. This knowledge is then used to develop an Energy Action Plan. Each City involved in Partners in Energy has different goals in their Energy Action Plans. Some may focus more on small business while others might concentrate on residential energy use, or both. But all have a common goal of saving energy and, more importantly, saving money. This is achieved by educating local residents on how they can change their behavior to save energy and money in their homes, introduce people and business to programs and rebates they may not have been previously aware of, and advocate for smart technologies that increase efficiency in municipal buildings.
The Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Task Force was originally given 18 months to achieve many of these goals. Through their hard work and dedication to the health of their community, just last month, the City Council has approved Task Force operations for the next two years. I think this was a wise decision and one that will pay off for decades to come. After those two years are up, it would be great to see this Task Force become an official advisory commission.
If you have any questions about these efforts or want to find out if starting a conservation commission or task force is right for your community, please send me an email, email@example.com