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Minnesota's Solar Capacity Gets Boost

A couple of two new community solar gardens have gone online in Minnesota. (
A couple of two new community solar gardens have gone online in Minnesota. (
January 2, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota's solar capacity has gotten a boost with the launch in December of a couple of community solar gardens at wastewater treatment plants in the Twin Cities.

A five-megawatt solar garden powered up Dec. 14 in Empire Township, and a three-megawatt garden went online Dec. 19 in Shakopee.

A Community Solar Garden is an array of solar panels that governments, businesses and households can subscribe to, rather than installing them on their own roofs.

Jason Willett, sustainability director for the Metropolitan Council, says the solar gardens help provide reliable, affordable, clean energy for local customers.

"So there's a whole bunch of pollution prevention, greenhouse gas emissions, particulate emissions that are avoided, cooling water that is not needed, in terms of conserving fossil fuels for other uses that we're going to need oil for: pavement and plastics and things," he states.

These projects are part of Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program.

Willett says not only do solar community gardens help the environment, they create construction jobs and save the state a lot of money.

He adds Minnesota spends about $18 billion a year to import fossil fuels.

"We're advancing Minnesota towards a little bit of self sufficiency and increased grid reliability through diversity of energy generation types and locations, particularly these community solar gardens are all distributed close to load in a lot of cases," he states.

Willett says the council has a responsibility to the region to find ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions because it not only preserves and protects natural resources but also contributes to better public health for residents.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN