The city of Rosemount is working on an initiative to help our residents and businesses save money while supporting our community’s sustainability. We’ve created an Energy Action Plan with the help of Xcel Energy. There was a good overview of the program on the front page of a recent issue of the Dakota County Tribune. I’d like to go into more detail on a few of the aspects of that plan that Rosemount residents may have questions about, and I’d like to share opportunities for you to get involved and have an impact.

First, it’s reasonable to ask if government is practicing what it’s preaching when it comes to energy use. The city began several steps in the years leading up to this initiative. We contracted to shift most of our electricity purchases to solar power, and we’re now using 70 percent of our electricity from community solar gardens. We’ve reached the third of five levels in the state’s GreenStep program that challenges cities to follow best practices for sustainability, including energy consumption.

As part of the current Partners in Energy program, we expect our residents and business owners will save $1 million on city energy costs over the next three years. One step we’ll look at is finding new efficiencies at the Ice Arena, which can be a major energy user. Whatever we can save will lessen the burden on taxpayers.

The goal of this program is to reduce Rosemount’s energy consumption 5 percent by next year and 15 percent by 2030. That’s a tall order for a community growing as quickly as ours. But there’s money and purpose in it for all of us.

Many in our business community discovered that this summer. The people who’ve worked on Partners in Energy staged a “blitz” to visit Downtown businesses. Our team offered advice on cutting energy bills, with an emphasis on ways to make commercial refrigeration more efficient. Businesses were also signed up on the spot for Energy Audits, and 37 of our businesses did just that. Our estimate is that Rosemount businesses have saved 1.6 million kilowatt-hours this year through these efforts, which is a great initial result.

And individuals can share in the savings. Our project has heavily promoted energy audits of Rosemount homes as well. Owners get free expert advice on ways to cut energy usage, with an emphasis on steps that qualify for rebates. If you haven’t already, please consider visiting the link below and signing up for an audit from your specific utility provider. I personally had an audit done earlier this year and found it very valuable. As we add homes to the community, we want to see even more savings. The city plans to host a session later this year for contractors to learn additional conservation techniques from the experts at Xcel.

The current project continues through the end of the year. But the effort will continue beyond that through the hard work of the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Task Force, which has been active at community events this summer.

If you’d like to help Rosemount achieve this goal, and if you’d like to save on your own energy spending, please visit our website at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/energy. Your efforts and ours will preserve our environment, and our pocketbooks.

Bill Droste is the mayor of Rosemount. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.

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