Minnesota’s on a Roll with $42 Million of New Solar Projects


Minnesota gets more solar via Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund. A variety of solar projects are planned for the state, from schools to businesses to community solar farms, ranging in size from 105 kW to over 1 MW.


We reported recently that more big solar is coming to Minnesota and other states in the Midwest, courtesy of Xcel Energy.

Today, Minnesota regulators approved 29 renewable energy projects, most of them focused on solar power, to receive $42 million in grants from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund.


This time it’s not all about big solar. The plan includes a variety of projects, from schools to businesses to community solar farms, ranging in size from 105 kW to over 1 MW. They’re the latest in a series of indications that Minnesota, despite its northern location, is shaping up to be a major solar state.


“The fund’s objective is to support development of new renewable energy technologies and renewable energy projects,” said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. “With the new state solar statute, this round of grants appropriately focuses on the goal of making more cost-effective solar resources available for Xcel Energy customers.”


Nearly 70 renewable energy proposals were considered for funding. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Renewable Development Fund grants, which support a portion of project costs, for energy production, research and development, and block grant distribution to Minnesota colleges and universities.


The Renewable Development Fund money comes from Xcel Energy customers. Each year, the company transfers $24.5 million to the fund in accordance with state law. An advisory board with representation from Xcel Energy, environmental groups, Xcel Energy customers, and the Prairie Island Indian Community makes recommendations to the commission. All selected projects are subject to final approval by the commission.


Including the grants announced today, nearly $95 million has been awarded through the Renewable Development Fund. Owners of energy production projects sell the energy generated to Xcel Energy or use the energy themselves. Currently, more than 27 MW of renewable energy projects are under development from three previous funding cycles.


Solar power projects


In addition to the Minnesota projects on this list, there are also a few wind and biomass projects planned. Locations denote project site.


  • Anoka Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids: Install 458 kW of solar capacity on campus and demonstrate three types of solar energy deployment that will be a hands-on laboratory for research and skills development, $828,900.

  • Aurora St. Anthony Limited LLC, St. Paul: Install 252 kW of solar capacity at the Old Home Milk Dairy facility and demonstrate the contribution that on-site solar energy generation can make for permanent affordable housing, $398,000.

  • Best Power, Int’l LLC, Mankato: Install 907 kW of solar capacity at the School Sisters of Notre Dame campus and provide a process for local electrical inspectors to understand the new technology of a 1,000 Vdc (Volts direct current) system, $900,000.

  • Best Power, Int’l LLC, Collegeville: Install 198 kW of solar capacity at St. John’s University and provide an on-site, side-by-side comparison of competing solar technologies. Linear axis tracker technology is currently in place. The new array will incorporate fixed-tilt technology, $172,213.

  • City of Hutchinson: Install 402 kW of solar capacity, which can be a model in Minnesota for how to cost-effectively develop a significant solar energy resource on a landfill that would otherwise have little or no economic value, $958,369.

  • City of St. Paul: Install 105 kW of solar capacity at the new Saints Stadium and promote the benefits of solar through direct engagement with ballpark spectators and to reduce the park’s greenhouse gas and pollution footprint, $555,750.

  • Cornerstone Group, Richfield: Install 152 kW of solar capacity at the former Lyndale Garden Center and showcase holistic sustainable development with a solar installation, $310,310.

  • Dragonfly Solar LLC, Dodge Center: Install 998 kW of solar capacity at a wind farm and take advantage of existing interconnection and construction costs, $1,650,000.

  • Farmamerica, Waseca: Install 120 kW of solar and wind capacity on campus and achieve a net zero non-combustion based energy production system at the Farmamerica interpretive center, significantly reducing the facilities carbon footprint, $600,000.

  • Goodwill Solar LLC, St. Paul: Install 700 kW of solar capacity at the Goodwill Easter Seals headquarters and provide data that will aid in the research and development of accurate energy and capacity pricing for solar technologies, $1,075,250.

  • Innovative Power Systems Inc., St. Paul: Install 967 kW of solar capacity on business rooftops within the Central Corridor and demonstrate a development process for solar energy through a public-private tax equity investment structure, $1,850,000.

  • Metropolitan Airports Commission, Bloomington: Install 1.18 MW of solar capacity at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and serve as a prototype for future solar projects at the airport which showcases energy innovations and focus public awareness, $2,022,507.

  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minneapolis: Install 200 kW of solar capacity that will use Minnesota Made solar panels and demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative solar designs, $969,741.

  • Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis: Install 485 kW of solar capacity at Edison High School and develop a green campus demonstration model by serving as a hands-on “classroom” that will be integrated with the school’s science, math and technology curricula, $917,250.

  • Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, statewide: Install 1 MW of solar capacity using solar gardens. Provides the opportunity for homeowners or business owners who cannot have solar on their roofs to participate in solar power generation and to research best practices for community solar in Minnesota through a demonstrable, replicable and scalable pilot project, $2,661,320.

  • Oak Leaf Energy Partners Ohio LLC, Shakopee: Install 1 MW of solar capacity at the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant, $2 million.

  • Target Corp., St. Paul: Install 350 kW of solar capacity at Target’s Midway St. Paul retail location to maximize on-site renewable energy production during peak hours and reduce Target Midway’s greenhouse gas footprint, $583,513.

  • Research and development project: Xcel Energy, Minneapolis: Develop information technology that will allow customers to receive on their billing statement the energy produced from their share of a solar garden and automatically verify subscriber eligibility, $390,000.

  • Institutes of higher education (block grant awards to be used for renewable electric energy research initiatives):

    • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, $5.5 million.

    • University of Minnesota, $3 million.

    • University of St. Thomas, $1.5 million. (grant amount may be amended)

Detailed information on the projects selected will be available on the Xcel Energy website.