Minn. Power unveils 10MW PV project

Minnesota Power will build a 10MW PV plant on land operated by the Minnesota National Guard, in order to meet its mandated solar target.

The ground-mounted array will be built across 100 acres (40 hectares) of “underutilized” land at Camp Ripley, a central Minnesota training facility currently used by the state’s National Guard.

The $25m project is due for completion by 2016.

Last year Mark Dayton, Minnesota’s Democratic governor, signed into law a requirement that the state’s investor-owned utilities source at least 1.5% of their electricity from solar by 2020 – a modest target that was nevertheless opposed by most of the state’s utilities.

The Camp Ripley project will take Duluth-based Minnesota Power “about one-third” of the way to meeting its company-specific target, says Al Rudeck, vice president for strategy and planning.

Xcel Energy, another investor-owned utility in Minnesota, is in the process of tendering out 100MW of future rooftop capacity to developers in the state – in addition to the 100MW of capacity it intends to buy from Geronimo Energy.

The Camp Ripley array is expected to produce more electricity than the base typically consumes, with the excess to be flowed into Minnesota Power’s service territory.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power is the principal company within ALLETE Inc., which trades on the New York Stock Exchange with a market valuation of $2.1bn.