These days it seems that wastewater treatment facilities and solar panels fit together like hand and glove. Yesterday, SunEdison and Oak Leaf Energy Partners announced the completion of yet another project. Two systems at the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities’ wastewater treatment plant in Minnesota have been completed.
The projects were funded in part through a $2 million grant from the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund. This grant supported a 1,000 kW system for the liquid treatment facility and a 280 kW array at the on-site sludge drying facility. The two projects total 1,280 kW of installed capacity.
What is the Renewable Energy Development Fund?
The fund is designed to sponsor projects that improve the environment, increase renewable energy use and create jobs. Once a year, Xcel transfers $24.5 million to the fund annually in accordance with state law. Then, an advisory board made up of representatives from Xcel Energy, environmental groups, Xcel Energy customers, and the Prairie Island Indian Community reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It is the commission that has the final say on which projects are approved.
“These grants serve as a critical tool in the creation of renewable energy solutions,” said Adam Duininck, Metropolitan Council chair. “The project developed by Oak Leaf and SunEdison will bring clean, renewable energy to our wastewater treatment plant while creating jobs, increasing the tax base, and promoting a more livable environment. We’re proud to continue advancing our mission of sustainability. In addition, we expect to be able to pass some savings on to wastewater ratepayers across the region.”
Benefits of the Solar Systems
The solar power systems are expected to generate enough clean energy each year to power 10 percent of the wastewater treatment plant’s annual electricity needs.
“This project was a result of the leadership shown by the Metropolitan Council and the support provided by Xcel Energy,” said Michael McCabe, Partner at Oak Leaf. “Oak Leaf applauds all project partners for their contributions in making this a successful project.”
SunEdison Services constructed and financed the installations and will be the long-term owner and operator of the systems.