In a 4-1 vote held on July 20, the Pipestone City Council approved the motion for the city to become a community solar subscriber for the new North Hiawatha Avenue. The agreement between the city of Pipestone and Novel Energy Solutions states that the city will receive savings of $.01/kilowatt hour on the kilowatt-hours it subscribed to.
Over the 25-year term, Pipestone subscribed to 530,737-kilowatt-hours per year, resulting in an estimated savings of $132,675 over the length of the agreement. According to the terms of the agreement, the city can terminate the plan after 10 years without any penalty so long as 24-months notice is given.
Pipestone won’t be the only community solar subscriber at the new garden, which will generate 1.4-megawatts of electricity. Upon completion, the solar installation will be able to handle additional subscribers who will benefit credits on their utility bills. The garden is planned for construction on city-owned land between the tree dump and the family services building. Pipestone City Solar, LLC currently has a lease agreement with the city, which also approved a conditional use permit that will take effect on January 21, 2021.
Pipestone City Solar, Novel Energy Solutions subsidiary, will pay the city of Pipestone $1,000 per year per acre to acquire the land for use. This will cover a 10-acre parcel of land carved out of 33.14 acres at 1369 N. Hiawatha. After every year, the rent will increase by 1%.
To draw in solar energy, the installation will feature fixed-tilt panels, known for following the sun. The arrays will be fitted with electrical inverters to collect the power, which is then transferred via buried lines. According to Novel Energy Solutions’ employee Nick Woods, the new site is planned for completion in late 2020 or early 2021. After completion, Xcel Energy will buy the generated electricity.
This isn’t the first community solar garden Pipestone subscribed to. In 2016, it took part in the Geronimo Energy garden, which, according to City Administrator Jeff Jones, provided the city with a near $6,000 savings from January 1, 2020, through May.