While community members in the Linden Hills neighborhood originally sought to develop the community solar garden in South Minneapolis, efforts to find a suitable location in the primarily residential neighborhood proved challenging.
When Minneapolis Climate Action, formerly Linden Hills Power and Light, expanded its mission city-wide, resident Mike Wynne, President and CEO of EMERGE, suggested the team develop the project on the EMERGE Second Chance Recycling warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis. Second Chance is a social enterprise providing transitional jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others overcoming significant barriers to employment, through its mattress recycling operation.
“We see this all tying together, the renewal that happens on our roof with solar energy is parallel to the renewal that is happening within our building,” said Kevin Engdahl, Vice President of EMERGE, in a recent video about the project.
Minneapolis Climate Action's community solar garden atop EMERGE Second Chance Recycling in Minneapolis.
As the solar garden’s host site, Second Chance Recycling will be allocated 18 kilowatts of the garden, paying only an annual maintenance and administrative fee. The organization has also agreed to purchase 35 shares under the pay-as-you-go program. Minneapolis Climate Action estimates the remaining shares will provide enough energy for approximately 100 homes in Minneapolis.
“Unlike the first waves of community solar gardens we saw, I think this project with EMERGE is squarely within the intent of the program—in the sense that it is driven by local residents. It’s smaller scale and has these great partnerships,” said Michael Krause, solar consultant on the project team. “We’re proud of it and the benefits it will provide to a lot of people.”
Now that the solar panels are installed, the project team anticipates the solar garden to come online in 2021, following its interconnection with Xcel Energy.
As this project is completed, Minneapolis Climate Action and partners are setting their sights on their next community solar garden development in North Minneapolis, which will follow a similar approach to advance local, equitable, and accessible clean energy to Minneapolis residents.
“We’re just super excited to be democratizing renewable energy and providing access to community solar,” said Samejima.