Arrowhead Electric Cooperative launches community solar garden program


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Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Solar Community ribbon cutting

A new community solar garden is producing power on the North Shore for members of Arrowhead Electric Cooperative!

On October 5th, thirty citizens turned out on a cloudy morning in Lusten to help dedicate the first community solar garden on the North Shore. Arrowhead Electric Cooperative and Great River Energy shared in the planning and development of the 60 KW solar array. Just as the citizens and customers walked up the road behind the Coop for the ribbon cutting ceremony, the sun came out!

The planning and development took 18 months. The PV array includes 144 solar panels and has been working smoothly since August, 2015. There is a web-based dashboard that shows the live production of electric power. At the ribbon cutting, Plant Operations Manager, John Twiest, described how the panels contribute clean energy to their grid and customers. John estimates that the installed cost per watt was $4.21.

After the ribbon cutting dedication, the gathered team went into the conference room and enjoyed a presentation and lunch. Jenny Kartes, the Plant Office Manager, explained how citizens could buy 20 years of power by leasing a PV panel for $1,300. The power generated by that panel would be used to reduce the member’s monthly bill. By the end of the meeting, three panels had sold! Families can purchase more than one panel, as long as supplies last.

As the clean energy event closed, one of the stakeholders noted that there were three generations of citizens at the dedication and that this investment was made with the youngest North Shore citizen in mind!

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Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers. Could it work for you?

Are you interested in going solar but unable to do so on your own? Perhaps you live in an apartment, have a shaded roof at home, or don’t have space at your organization.

Where do you want to start?

Community Solar Gardens

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Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission