MnDOT, Cooperative Energy Futures community solar garden completed, producing electricity in downtown Minneapolis
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Cooperative Energy Futures new community solar garden project in downtown Minneapolis is completed and subscribers are earning credits towards their energy costs.
The solar garden was built over the top level of the MnDOT-owned parking Ramp A across from Target Field. This is MnDOT’s first solar project in the agency’s right of way and first solar garden subscription. The city of Minneapolis manages the ABC Ramps, three parking and multimodal transportation facilities located in downtown Minneapolis.
“MnDOT is always looking for new and innovative ways to be efficient with our agency’s resources and improve the environment,” said MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “Creating a community solar garden not only reduces carbon emissions, it also supports our economy by reducing the energy costs of home owners, businesses and our agency.”
Cooperative Energy Futures has been building its community solar model since 2013. It is a Minneapolis-based, member-owned cooperative that creates energy efficiency and clean energy solutions. Apadana Solar Technologies, Golden Valley, Minn., built the solar garden and was the prime contractor for CEF.
The solar garden uses 3,760 panels to generate electricity from sunlight and it is expected to produce 1.4 megawatt hours of electricity each year. The solar panels cover more than half the parking spaces of the Ramp A parking deck. No parking spaces were lost during construction.
Cooperative Energy Futures has a contract to lease the ramp space from MnDOT for the next 25 years.
"Cooperative Energy Futures is thrilled to have this project up and running and reducing energy costs for Minneapolis co-op members," said Timothy Den-Herder, general manager of Cooperative Energy Futures. "The leadership demonstrated by MnDOT, the city of Minneapolis and so many others during this project was key to our success. These great partners worked seamlessly together to bring community solar that is accessible to all residents and visible to thousands of Minnesotans to the heart of downtown Minneapolis.”
Similar to a community garden where each person has a plot of land, CEF sells solar garden subscriptions to residents and businesses, who will receive credits on their electric bills for the electricity produced by their portion of the solar garden’s production. This program provides a way for people to access renewable energy that is not directly connected to their electric meter. CEF will host a community event at the solar garden atop Ramp A from noon-1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, to give residents and businesses more information about becoming subscribers.
Eighty percent of the subscriptions will be sold to residential households, primarily in Minneapolis, including low- to moderate-income residents and those in affordable housing. MnDOT is a backup subscriber and will begin receiving bill credits for at least 20 percent of the subscriptions’ solar array production beginning in November.
Drone and ramp level video of the community solar garden is available at tinyurl.com/ramp-a-media along with additional contact information for the project.