Xcel Energy flips switch on new plant, more than doubling solar energy generation in Minnesota

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Xcel Energy flips switch on new plant, more than doubling solar energy generation in Minnesota

December 25, 2016

After years of talking and planning, solar energy in Minnesota is finally starting to shine.

Xcel Energy last week flipped the switch on the North Star project in Chisago County, one of the largest solar plants in the Midwest. It by itself more than doubles the state’s total solar energy generation.

Also this month, Xcel’s promising but much-delayed Community Solar Garden program is rolling out in a significant way. Around 20 megawatts of solar garden power are online, and up to 35 more megawatts are expected to be running by Jan. 1.

Another large project that will feed power to Xcel — called Aurora — has been largely energized since mid-November.

“Solar is taking off in Minnesota, and it’s a sign of a lot more to come,” said Allen Gleckner, director of energy markets at Fresh Energy, a renewable energy research and advocacy group in St. Paul. “We expect to see hundreds of megawatts built in 2017.”

A megawatt is a million watts, and Minnesota had only 43 megawatts of solar energy capacity at the end of third quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade group. SEIA ranked Minnesota a mediocre 31st among states.

SOURCE:  Star Tribune

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