With 6,000 solar panels installed in the suburban city of Brooklyn Park over the past year, Mayor Jeff Lunde can rightfully claim it as being home to the largest solar project ever done in a Minnesota city.
On June 8 he did just that, announcing the project’s completion, the city can now run on 100% sustainable energy, generating more than 1.5 MW of electricity per year. He projected next year’s saving in electricity costs to be $60,000 – in the next 25 years, more than $5.5 million.
The panels installed will serve their public buildings to their street lights. They are located at three operations and maintenance buildings, the Community Activity Center, police station, central fire station and the water treatment plant.
“This is a case of we can generate electricity and we can generate power right here in Minnesota, we can create Minnesota jobs,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz proclaimed at the event unveiling the completed project. “We can do it at cost reductions to the taxpayers and we can reduce carbon emissions.”
As Dan Ruiz, Director of Operations and Maintenance for the city, explained in endorsing the project’s impact, “The great thing is…you don’t see any smokestacks, you don’t see trucks hauling in coal, you don’t see any nuclear-powered facilities. It’s using the sun.”
The cost to the taxpayers up front was nothing. The nearly $2.6 million installation was paid for by a third-party investor, a Minnesota Solar grant, and federal tax credits.
By minimizing its initial financial investment through grants and other Federal solar incentives the city will break even quickly, over approximately 7 years, because of the high ROI (return on investment).
As other communities throughout the state are looking to follow suit, Minnesota lawmakers are looking at ways to fill the gap left if the federal tax credit that helped make this project possible runs out this year, which is a strong possibility.
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