There have been a lot of headlines coming out of the South Metro recently talking about communities offsetting high utility bills with clean and affordable renewable energy. The most recent headline came out of the Farmington Independent, which was highlighting the Farmington School Board’s approval of solar panel installation on school rooftops. The Independent reported that the panels could save the district $74,250 in it’s first year alone and would continue to rise. This is big news for a school district that spends roughly $960,000 per year on electricity. Farmington is following the lead of many South Metro School Districts that are installing solar panels on their roofs and seeing the savings but this isn’t only happening in the South Metro. All over the state people are seeing the benefits of installing solar panels or buying into community solar gardens.
Some 20 miles west of the metro is the city of Rockford that recently signed an agreement with Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association to offset two-thirds of their power consumption with solar energy. According to City Administrator Dan Madsen as paraphrased in the Midwest Energy News article, Rockford should save up to 7% annually compared to a traditional contract. Jordan in Scott County is another city that has seen the financial benefits of solar. The city leaders recently subscribed to a 5-megawatt community solar garden that will offset the majority of their energy usage. According to Midwest Energy News the City Administrator of Jordan, Tom Nikunen, has said that Jordan could save up to $1.6 million by 2040.
If you’re not familiar with renewable energy, think that solar energy will drive up utility bills, or you’re not sure solar is doable in Minnesota – you might be asking yourself, how is this possible? It’s possible because the cost of solar is plummeting and Minnesota is a great place to utilize solar energy. For example, some areas of Minnesota receive more solar hours than Houston, Texas and despite our snow cover, snow actually melts off the panels quickly. Not to mention the 15,300 clean energy sector jobs we’ve produced in Minnesota. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense to continue to move forward with a clean energy future in Minnesota so that we can create more clean energy jobs, become a leader for clean energy distribution, and reduce the use of imported coal that pollutes our air and our water.