Arrowhead business receives $55K for solar upgrade

April 2024

Dennis Rysdahl’s hotel, AmericInn by Wyndham, sits just off the shore of Lake Superior in Tofte, Minnesota. It’s a scenic drive less than two hours from Duluth. Rysdahl has invested over 20 years in his business and is excited about other recent investments. 

AmericInn by Wyndham Tofte recently went solar, thanks to $55,000 in grant support. 

“Like most hotels similar to ours, our rooms and common spaces are heated and cooled using electric through-the-wall heat pumps, which use a lot of electrical power,” says Rysdahl. After undergoing some studies, Rysdahl learned that the business could self-generate about one-third of its electricity by installing a roof-top solar system.

Exterior, overhead view of a modern hotel building.  On the roof, there are rows of solar pa Surrounding the building, there is a sidewalk and open parking spaces. Behind it is a lush green forest.

Arrowhead business

AmericInn by Wyndham in Tofte, Minnesota. Common spaces are heated and cooled using electric through-the-wall heat pumps.

In the foreground, a woman and a man are standing side by side, facing the camera. Both individuals appear to be Caucasian and are dressed casually. In the background, there is a modern hotel building with a gray roof, signifying the presence of solar panels. The solar panels are visible on the roof. Behind the hotel is a clear blue sky.

Proud owners

Senja Ahlbeck-Bates and Dennis Rysdahl pose in front of AmericInn by Wyndham Tofte. Ahlbeck-Bates is general manager and part-owner.

Aerial view of a hotel complex set amidst natural surroundings. The hotel building has a gray roof and is adorned with rows of solar panels. In front of the hotel, there is a spacious parking lot, providing convenience for guests. Behind the hotel, a lush forest of trees extends, creating a picturesque backdrop.

Harnessing solar

With new roof-top solar panels, the business expects to self-generate about one-third of its electricity.

Then, Rysdahl learned about two programs focused on supporting businesses like his. To aid in going solar, Rysdahl received a $35,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP). Closer to home, he received a $20,000 grant from the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency’s Business Energy Retrofit Program.

“Our total project cost was $140,000 so these grants lowered our out-of-pocket cost considerably. We anticipate about a ten year pay-back on this investment,” says Rysdahl. With the solar system up and running, Rysdahl says he’s glad he took the leap and grateful for the help along the way.

“The Clean Energy Resource Teams were very helpful as we began researching this project. They made me aware of both grants and also provided information on Minnesota’s rules and regulations. I am not sure our project would have happened without their early assistance.”


- Dennis Rysdahl

Rysdahl has advice to other business-owners considering a similar project. “With the grants and tax credits available now, the paybacks are beneficial enough to justify the private investment. So DO IT!”

Project break-down

Project: 40 KW DC output solar roof-top system
Total cost: $140,000
Out-of-pocket cost: $85,000
Grant support:  

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) - $35,000
  • Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency’s Business Energy Retrofit program -  $20,000

Sign up for our email newsletter

We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.