Southern Minnesota will welcome a new community solar garden by spring 2021. The Northfield Community Solar Garden is one of more than 5,000 solar facilities constructed in the state and will provide residents and small businesses with an option to save money on their power bills. The 1.4-megawatt community solar installation hasn’t begun construction yet, but when it is operational, its scope will encompass Le Sueur, Steele, Rice, Waseca, Blue Earth, Freeborn, and Faribault counties.
The facility came about through a partnership between Novel Energy Solutions, a Minnesota-based developer formerly known as Minnesota community Solar, and Xcel Energy, the regional utility company. Northfield Area Community Solar (NACS), a local organization dedicated to spreading awareness of clean, renewable energy through community solar projects, was responsible for the two companies teaming up for this community solar garden.
Since 2009, the State of Minnesota has increased its renewable solar generation from 1 megawatt to more than 1,000 megawatts. According to a Solar Potential Analysis Report from 2018, the state expects that 10% of its energy will come directly from solar power by 2025.
Mary Jo Cristofaro, NACS Chair, states that Minnesota has a clear path to a future run on renewable energy. She confirmed that the importance of community solar is the cost-saving potential for those that subscribe to the program.
With a community solar garden, homeowners, renters, and small businesses can subscribe to a block of energy. Typically for a nominal fee, they’ll be linked up with the facility through their local utility company’s grid and will start receiving clean energy. For their participation, subscribers receive a credit toward their monthly utility bill.
Cristofaro continued, highlighting the importance of community solar for the environment. She emphasized that solar energy will need to be in full swing in the event that the planet’s oil reserves are burned off.
The Waseca County community solar garden is scheduled for construction in late spring. Xcel Energy and Novel Energy Solutions plan to begin operations shortly after construction is completed to start benefiting the 150 subscribers the site can handle.
Parties interested in subscribing can do so at the site’s official website.