A plan to support state economic recovery efforts through a $40 million investment into solar energy at Minnesota Power received unanimous approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last week.
The effort will culminate in three projects: a 9.6 MW array at the Laskin Energy Center, a 10 MW array near the company’s Sylvan Hydro Station, and a 1.6 MW array on a proposed site on Riley Road in Duluth, Minnesota. Combined, they are expected to provide sufficient energy to power approximately 4,000 homes. Minnesota Power also predicts they will add about $10 million to the gross regional product this year, accompanied by an increase in local government revenues by about $55,000 from direct tax payments and another $110,000 indirectly.
Construction will begin this summer, and all arrays are expected to be in operation next year. Once complete, they will bring Minnesota Power’s total solar energy offerings to approximately 30 MW.
“We are committed to our communities and are pleased to play a strong role in the economic recovery of our region through these three renewable energy projects. We appreciate the broad support for these projects and the MPUC’s approval today,” ALLETE President and CEO Bethany Owen said. “The construction of solar arrays at sites in Hoyt Lakes, near Brainerd and in Duluth, will provide local construction jobs, boost the tax base of local economies, and provide more clean energy for our customers. These economic recovery projects also gave us a great opportunity to begin incorporating changes into the procurement processes in order to identify more diverse suppliers and ultimately strengthen communities.”
These new sites are spread across northern Minnesota and will advance both the state’s Solar Energy Standard and the company’s efforts to achieve carbon-free energy by 2050. Separately, the company maintains a customer solar rebate program and a low-income solar program to aid these goals.