Minnesota Power, National Guard Build 10 MW Solar Farm

August 28, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

Camp Ripley energy manageMinnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard plan to build a 10 MW solar energy array at Camp Ripley in central Minnesota.

The solar project envisioned by Minnesota Power and the National Guard, subject to regulatory approval, would cover nearly 100 acres of underutilized government property at the Camp with photovoltaic panels on racks.

The project will help Minnesota Power meet its goal of achieving the state’s solar mandate and advances its EnergyForward goal of providing a mix of one-third renewable, one-third coal and one-third natural gas energy sources.

At 10 MW, it will be among Minnesota’s largest single-site solar arrays, producing more electricity than the base normally requires. During non-emergency operation the solar energy produced will flow into Minnesota Power’s electric service territory, which encompasses 26,000 square miles in central and northern Minnesota.

Projected to cost $25 million, the project could be completed in the 2015-2016 time frame.

Camp Ripley would achieve an energy security priority by gaining the ability to function completely independent of the electric grid in emergency situations.

The National Guard and Minnesota Power are also working together to identify programs that will help the camp meet its energy savings goal of 30 percent (beginning with a 2003 baseline). This spring and summer, Minnesota Power personnel conducted an energy efficiency evaluation at the camp under the auspices of the company’s Power of One Conservation Improvement Program. More than 50 different energy conservation measures were recommended.

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