Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Major Solar Installation

As you can read here, Minneapolis has been selected to receive a $2 million grant to build a 600 kilowatt solar installation on top of our Currie Maintenance Facility. This is bigger than any existing solar project in the upper midwest.

It's a unique and interesting deal, which I hope we can replicate elsewhere. Here's how it works:

Xcel Energy's Renewable Development Fund, which they were required by the Prairie Island agreement to create, will provide $2 million towards this project. The City will lease space on top of our facility to a third-party solar developer. This developer, unlike either Xcel or the City, will have access to federal tax incentives for solar. The City will enter into a power purchase agreement with the solar developer, paying a little more than we do per kilowatt-hour off of the normal Xcel grid.

This will generate a large portion of the demand of the Currie facility, the equivalent of about 80 single-family homes. It also affords us a unique and exciting opportunity, given the purpose of the Currie facility, which is maintenance of the City fleet. The City, especially the Regulatory Services department, is interested in purchasing Plug-In Hybrid vehicles when they become available. Taken together, these two initiatives could allow us to run a significant portion of our fleet on solar power.

The next challenge for us is to find ways to make this sort of development possible without a large external grant.

The last thing I'd like to mention is that this project would not have been possible without the good work of the City's new Energy Manager, Matt Bye. Creating this position in the 2007 budget was one of the most important sustainability measures the City has taken in my time on the Council. I look forward to more great work from Matt, both on increasing our use of renewables and reducing the total amount of energy the City uses.


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