On Thursday, August 24, Flaherty & Hood Senior Attorney/Lobbyist Shane Zahrt presented to a national coalition of leaders assembled by the United States Economic Development Association (USEDA) and operated by the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The initiative is dubbed Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities (BRECC) and is designed to help communities with coal-reliant economies enact development strategies to build economic resilience. Zahrt discussed strategies local communities can use to engage with state policymakers and develop programs to mitigate the economic impacts of major economic transitions, like the closure of a coal plant.

In his work for the Coalition of Utility Cities (CUC), Zahrt has helped make the State of Minnesota a national leader in creating programs and policies to support communities facing the retirement of large, investor-owned power plants. This work includes communities like Becker, Oak Park Heights, Cohasset, and Granite Falls, where some of the state’s largest coal-burning facilities have retired or will retire in the near future.

Specifically, Zahrt has led the policy development and legislative advocacy for successful initiatives, including:

  • The creation of the Energy Transition Office and Energy Transition Advisory Committee to provide staff, resources, and a venue for cross-agency collaboration within Minnesota’s state government, as well as formal channels for stakeholder input.
  • The creation of the Community Energy Transition Grant program with $12 million in total funding to support economic development efforts in communities facing power plant retirements.
  • The creation of an electric generation transition aid program to provide tax base support to communities in the years following plant retirement to avoid dramatic property tax shifts onto other residents and businesses.

For more information on these subjects or to learn more about how Flaherty & Hood can support communities facing uncertain economic futures, contact Shane at (651) 295-1123 or sazahrt@flaherty-hood.com.