Although modest in scope, this initiative is important to sustainable energy advocates, RECs, and the renewable energy industry because it asked and answered some complex questions. Could the seemingly obvious reasons and opportunities for RECs to provide renewable energy to their members overcome the substantial barriers that have historically prevented them from doing so? Since no REC had previously developed renewable energy, what new factors, approaches, and participants might make the difference in this case?
The project has demonstrated that the confluence of interests among a variety of stakeholders does provide sufficient impetus for RECs to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities to develop renewable energy and rural economies. Further, and perhaps most important, the experience in Minnesota provides a model for RECs in other states.
This report begins with a description of the players and organizations involved, their structures and goals, and the opportunities for and barriers to renewable energy development they represent. The discussion proceeds from RECs in general to Minnesota RECs in particular, and then to the particular REC and advocacy organizations involved in this project. It includes an analytic description of the specific renewables development activities undertaken in this case, along with some surprises encountered along the way and an overview of activities remaining. The report concludes with a summary of the lessons learned during the process and suggestions for replicating the experience elsewhere.