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Developing a Strategy

Clarify Your City’s Priorities

Decisions around the particular project, and even the type of project, should be grounded in a clear understanding of 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.) and community stakeholders. 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. For more information on this topic, see the Renewables Accelerator’s report Integrating Equity into City Clean Energy Initiatives: Considerations and Resources for Local Governments. To spearhead this effort, city staff may consider forming an Environmental and Climate Justice Committee (ECJ). For more information on this topic, see NAACP’s Just Energy Policies and Practices Action Toolkit

Deciding which stakeholders to engage requires some strategic thinking. Bringing in additional perspectives can provide a better understanding of your community’s needs. However, including more individuals can add additional complexity to the process without providing additional clarity. Cities should look to find the right balance between running inclusive and efficient processes based on their needs and goals.

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.

Collecting Community Input

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 City Energy Project’s resources on reaching community stakeholders. (Note: 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.