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Minnesota Power Takes Over the Grand Rapids Community Solar Garden

Itasca Clean Energy Team

Over the last year we’ve reported on a variety of developments in the fast growing solar power industry in MN.  MN’s two largest utilities, Xcel Energy and MN Power are gradually growing their solar and wind power capacity.  Solar installations are built for homes, businesses, tribal government buildings and tribal communities, as well as institutions like schools and hospitals, and community solar gardens.

The Itasca Clean Energy Team has been working with the city’s municipal utility for more than two years on a plan to build a 1-megawatt community solar array and battery storage system.

In a recent article for Midwest Energy News, reporter Frank Jossi writes: “Grand Rapids Public Utilities concluded the project could save it more than $6 million over two decades and was prepared to move forward late last year when it received a legal threat from Minnesota Power, which supplies its electricity.

Minnesota Power warned the city that its plans would be a breach of its electric service agreement. Rather than fight the case in court, the city decided to work with Minnesota Power on a new arrangement.”

MN Power sweetened the new deal by offering to double the size of the community garden to two megawatts.  A megawatt is enough to power about eleven hundred homes.

If successful as originally planned, the new solar garden has the potential to save energy costs for Grand Rapids residents, which would reduce the cost of electricity the city buys from MN Power. 

Bill Schnell from the Itasca Clean Energy Team joins us again to bring us up to date on this new development.