Mountain Iron

Taconite capital of the world studies solar potential across entire community

Report to inform future developments

In an effort to fully understand the solar potential across City of Mountain Iron's facilities and beyond, staff worked with a consultant to produce a Renewable Mountain Iron report that provides building benchmarking, solar suitability, and solar PV designs and budgets where it makes sense.

We chatted with Craig Wainio, City Administrator with Mountain Iron, to learn more about the city's plan.

Mountain Iron is committed to using solar in the future and this study will be the backbone of those efforts.

Craig Wainio, Administrator, City of Mountain Iron

What inspired the City of Mountain Iron to study solar potential?

Craig Wainio: In 2012 the city installed a 20 kW ground-mounted solar array behind City Hall using Silicon Energy panels, which were manufactured locally at the time. The nearby Merritt Elementary School also has a ground-mounted solar array out front. In addition, the city already shares much of the information about our own progress and what people in the city can do on our website.

The City of Mountain Iron is also a step two member of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program and has a bronze designation for being solar-ready through SolSmart.

We wanted to do more to look at solar across the city and what was possible. We received a Northeast CERT Seed Grant that allowed us to study solar potential across the City of Mountain Iron.

The Renewable Mountain Iron report explores:

  1. Citywide solar PV potential
  2. The potential for on-site solar energy and achieving Net Zero Energy for nine publicly owned buildings in the City of Mountain Iron
  3. Feasibility of utility-scale community solar arrays at six sites throughout the City

How did you share the report with the community?

Craig Wainio: The project was shared with the city council and the broader community and had a positive reception. We also shared the report with the other entities involved such as the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District and the Arrowhead Library Service, who were very interested in solar. Finally, we shared the report with a handful of utility-scale solar developers. The report was received extremely well and will guide solar development in the city for years to come!

  • Technology: Study of Solar Electric Potential
  • Northeast CERT Seed Grant: $4,750
  • Total Project Cost: $9,250
  • Other Funds: consultant’s in-kind contribution
  • Project Team: Craig Wainio (City of Mountain Iron), Ted Redmond (paleBLUEdot LLC), John Carroll (Northern Sun Solar), Jim Weikum (Arrowhead Library System), Dr. Reggie Engebritson (Mountain Iron Buhl School District)
  • People Involved and Reached: 15

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