NRG Energy, Inc has broken ground on its first five community solar projects in Minnesota and reached agreements to subscribe several national business customers to its solar farms in the state.
“Across Minnesota we are hearing the same strong message from residents and businesses alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Drew Warshaw, Vice President, Community Solar, NRG. “Community solar gives them that opportunity – a simple, cost-effective path for residents and businesses to go solar without having to put panels on their roofs.”
NRG’s commitment to developing community solar in Minnesota (the state where NRG began operations in 1989) is moving forward with 25-year Solar Subscription Agreements (SSAs) signed by more than 1,000 residents and several large businesses in the state including:
- U.S. Bank – the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States, with six sites subscribed, including the iconic U.S. Bank Plaza in Minneapolis;
- Land O’Lakes – a national member-owned agricultural cooperative based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, with its corporate headquarters subscribing;
- Macy’s – one of the nation’s premier retailers, with three of its retail sites subscribing;
- Ecolab – the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services headquartered in St. Paul, with several corporate facilities subscribing.
“We seek out partnerships that positively impact the environment and participating in this unique community solar garden initiative is a great example of that,” said Reba Dominski, senior vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility at U.S. Bank. “We are proud to be a subscriber along with Land O’Lakes, Macy’s, Ecolab and others, and congratulate NRG for its leadership and investment in this important work. We are excited to see the positive impact the gardens will have on our communities.”
NRG’s renewables business has broken ground on five projects in Minnesota that will provide clean energy:
- Forest Lake Project in Washington County – 6.7 MW dc (5 MW ac);
- Farmington Project in Dakota County – 6.1 MW dc (5 MW ac);
- Pine Island Project in Goodhue County – 3.5 MW dc (2.9 MW ac);
- Highway 14 Project in Olmstead County – 6.7 MW dc (5 MW ac);
- Dodge Project in Dodge County – 6.1 MW dc (5 MW ac).
All of the projects are slated for completion by early 2017. The five solar farms will serve both businesses and residential customers.
How it works
Business and residential customers in Minnesota subscribe to an NRG community solar farm by signing a 25-year SSA. Electricity generated at the solar farm goes to the local utility’s grid. Customers then receive a bill credit from their utility — in this case, Xcel Energy, Inc. — for their subscribed share of the electricity produced by the community solar farm.
“We’d like to thank Xcel Energy, Governor Dayton and the State Legislature for supporting this innovative community solar program,” added NRG’s Drew Warshaw. “Their forward-thinking leadership – along with that of our flagship customers in four Minnesota counties – is paving the way for other states to follow suit.”
Further reading: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection
— Solar Builder magazine