Stillwater Residents Envision Clean Energy Future

by Keely Cervantes,
Regional Manager - East Metro

On July 9th, over 30 residents and Stillwater area community members gathered together to speak about the future of clean energy and how to move their energy goals forward. The energy listening session was hosted by Sustainable Stillwater Minnesota’s Energy Working Group, Conservation Minnesota, and Metro CERTs.

For community members, a top priority for the meeting was to speak about investment in renewable energy. They voiced their passion for clean energy and the climate, brainstormed how Stillwater can be a leader, and created plans for collaborating with likeminded people around a sustainable and healthy future. Both the Mayor of Stillwater, Ted Kozlowski, and Representative Shelly Christensen (39B) attended to speak with their neighbors.

Some changes the participants imagine seeing in Stillwater include:

  • a better urban development plan
  • more sustainable building codes and requirements for renewable energy integration
  • methods to help homeowners of older homes increase their energy efficiency
  • increasing the attention of citizens to sustainability through renewable energy
  • more pollinator friendly bike paths
  • encouraging forms of transportation other than reliance on cars

Residents want to see this clean energy vision both for their city government and for area residents. They want the city to be a leader and their community to be an active participant in these actions. They believe city action is crucial to inspire the community, provide financial support, and involve local businesses in making change. Representative Christensen mentioned that community leadership, money, and public buy-in are all necessary. The SSMN Green Step Cities group is actively working on gaining higher levels of GreenStep certifications, the success of which depends on engaging the city and pushing for more energy efficiency all around.

Mayor Kozlowski spoke to some of the city’s actions, saying that there are three buildings where efficiency has been looked at and the city has implemented all recommendations. However, they do not have enough money to incentivize clean energy and cannot build stricter codes than the state laws. He is willing to carry tangible ideas with a positive impact to the city council. Residents were hopeful they found energy champions in their mayor and legislative representative during the course of this discussion.

People identified other barriers including motivating residents about sustainability. Big projects like solar panels are eye-catching, but there are many smaller actions people can take that make a large collective difference, and education is a large piece of the puzzle. I find these tips from Metro CERTs on summer energy saving particularly helpful.

Residents brainstormed ways to reach their fellow community members and left feeling like they have allies in the movement. Participants also felt the desire to elevate the stories of those in Stillwater already embarking successfully on an energy efficient journey, so be sure to follow SSMN to see these champions and their stories. If you’re a resident in the Stillwater area, please get involved with the Energy Working Group to continue working toward a cleaner energy future for us all.