MnDOT, Cooperative Energy Futures launch community solar garden project in downtown Minneapolis
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Cooperative Energy Futures launched a new community solar garden project in downtown Minneapolis Monday, Oct. 29. The solar garden will be built over the top level of the MnDOT-owned parking Ramp A. The city of Minneapolis manages the ramp.
This is MnDOT’s first solar project in the agency’s right of way and first solar garden subscription. It advances Gov. Dayton’s executive order for state agencies to support renewable energy.
Cooperative Energy Futures has been building its community solar model since 2013. It is a Minneapolis-based, member-owned energy services cooperative that creates energy efficiency and clean energy solutions.
“Community solar gardens will reduce energy costs for participating households and businesses,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “We are happy to partner with Cooperative Energy Futures to commercially develop the agency’s right of way into something that will reduce carbon emissions.”
A solar garden is a large array of solar panels that generate electricity from sunlight. The garden will provide a cover over half of the Ramp A parking deck. No parking spaces will be lost. Construction is expected to start in spring 2019 and be completed by fall 2019.
Cooperative Energy Futures leased the ramp space from MnDOT for 25 years.
“Cooperative Energy Futures is excited by MnDOT’s leadership helping us bring community solar that is accessible to all residents to the heart of downtown Minneapolis,” said Timothy Den-Herder, general manager of Cooperative Energy Futures. “This project expands the success we’ve had creating cooperatively owned community solar in unique and highly visible locations that will make clean energy visible to thousands of Minnesotans.”
Similar to a community garden where each person has a plot of land, CEF will sell solar garden subscriptions to subscribers who will receive credits on their electric bills for the electricity produced by their portion of the solar garden’s production. This program provides a way for people to access renewable energy that is not directly connected to their electrical meter.
Eighty percent of the subscriptions will be sold to residential households, primarily in Minneapolis, including low- to moderate-income residents and those in affordable housing. MnDOT will be a backup subscriber and receive bill credits for at least 20 percent of the subscriptions’ solar array production.