Getting Started

Clarify Your City’s Priorities

The process of identifying, evaluating, and ranking how your local government’s priorities connect to renewable energy motivations is varied. To better understand your city’s priorities, you will want to consult with key internal decision makers (i.e., the mayor, city council, commissioners, etc.) In particular, cities that are considering goals that will have a direct impact on community members (e.g., community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) targets or renewable energy targets for low-income households), should work with community organizations to include impacted community members in the conversation (see the next section for more information) Setting a goal:
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Project Portal Goal-Setting Guidance document provides a framework for and addresses frequently asked questions related to setting a renewable electricity goal. Their Toolbox for Renewable Energy Project Development also provides a wider suite of resources that will be useful later on in the procurement process.
Evaluating what your peers have done:
The Sierra Club, CDP, and NAZCA all maintain databases of city renewable energy commitments and actions.

Deciding which stakeholders to engage requires some strategic thinking. Bringing in additional perspectives can provide a better understanding of your community’s needs; this can be particularly important if you are considering setting a community-wide goal (see the next section for more information). However, opening the discussion up can overly complicate the process without providing additional clarity.

As an output from this process, you may want to develop a values matrix that clearly identifies, defines, and prioritizes your city’s objectives. Alternatively, you could aim to capture these priorities in some other form, such as a formal statement of the city’s priorities that has been approved by internal decision makers Clarify Your City’s Priorities:
Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI’s) Community Energy Resource Guide outlines the key steps that cities should undertake to create a comprehensive energy action plan. Section 4, “Stakeholder Collaboration and Community Engagement,” provides suggestions on successfully engaging your community on key energy issues.
You can also find more information on the City Energy Project’s resources on stakeholder engagement.

Learn More

Some communities may find it useful to launch this effort with a community energy workshop; for more information on how to structure this session, see Chapter 4 of RMI’s Community Energy Resource Guide, “Stakeholder Collaboration and Community Engagement,” as well as the City Energy Project’s resources on reaching community stakeholders. (Note: the City Energy Project’s resources are focused on energy efficiency efforts, but contain many useful lessons learned for renewable energy efforts as well). Alternatively, you may wish to consider focus groups, town hall meetings, webinars, or an online approach. The City of Boise created a series of videos to engage its local population, while the City of San Diego created an Online Community Planning Tool to poll residents.