Eden Prairie Solar Garden to be Built | Eden prairie
City residents encouraged to register and save energy
The City of Eden Prairie is partnering with Cooperative Energy Futures to build a solar garden on the roof of the Eden Prairie Community Center, an energy source that will be available to residents by subscription.
To explain the program options to residents, the city’s sustainability coordinator, Jennifer Hassebroek, hosted Timothy Denherder-Thomas, Co-Founder and CEO of Cooperative Energy Futures, for an online webinar in June and for an in-person presentation. August 4.
In total, Hassebroek said that around 50 people attended the live presentations online and in person, and around 100 watched the video online after the live presentation.
“This is the second residential community solar project in Eden Prairie – the Pax Christi Church already has one up and running – so we expect some residents to already be familiar with how community solar power works,” Hassebroek said in a statement. e-mail following the person’s introduction.
Hassebroek, opening the June online presentation, said the program is made “available to those who otherwise cannot participate due to cost, ownership or other barriers, and he supports the goal. of the city’s climate action plan to achieve carbon neutrality in the community by 2050. “
In both presentations, Denherder-Thomas described his organization as a community-owned clean energy cooperative that has served members across Minnesota since 2009.
He said the community center was chosen for the photovoltaic solar panels because it is a sunny location of the city-owned facility.
“Households can subscribe to enough solar power to cover up to 120% of their annual electricity consumption,” Denherder-Thomas said. “Each subscriber’s electricity bill is credited with the electricity produced by his portion of the solar garden.
The state legislature passed a bill in 2013 that requires Xcel Energy to participate in these types of programs.
“You still get an electricity bill and pay Xcel Energy for the energy used, but now the energy company also pays the customer for the clean energy produced… from the solar garden,” Denherder-Thomas said.
He said this program forces Xcel Energy to credit community solar garden subscribers on their bill. Next, solar subscribers make payments to a community solar garden business, in this case Cooperative Energy Futures.
The savings per year for the average user are between $ 60 and $ 100. Thus, not only will subscribers see their energy bills reduced, but they will join the effort to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint.
Residents could contract to have solar panels installed on their property, but Denherder-Thomas called the option expensive, especially for tenants or those with low incomes. One of the main goals of these specific programs is to include these types of residents.
The community solar program, like the one offered at Eden Prairie, is open to any resident served by Xcel Energy.
Supporters of the community solar effort describe the following benefits:
• Residents do not need to have direct solar access.
• There is no physical change to the resident’s domicile.
• Participants pay monthly with no upfront fees.
• There is no debt.
For on-site solar, residents must own their own building, have good sun exposure, have panels wired to a meter, and be able to afford the panels.
However, one of the benefits of setting up your own system is the eligibility for significant tax credits.
One goal of the Eden Prairie Community Solar Project is to make the source of energy accessible to ordinary people. Denherder-Thomas said 85% of community solar projects developed are used by corporate or institutional subscribers. Less than 15% of these projects are offered to residents, he added.
“There are some big barriers to equity and access here that we as a co-op are really trying to overcome,” said Denherder-Thomas.
He said they plan to achieve their goals by offering the program to the entire community, including renters or those considered low income.
Not only does it provide an inclusive platform, but it will also help build community wealth through job creation, business development and the promotion of clean energy across all economic sectors, according to Denherder- Thomas.
The success of clean energy rests on a “key choice” that must be made by individuals and communities, he said.
“We send our energy dollars to large public utilities organized as monopolies, which means that we really have no choice as to where these energy dollars go; we don’t have the power to choose a different alternative, ”he said.
The choice to produce and use clean energy is “also a choice to give back ownership and control to our communities, to groups of people working together to make our energy local”.
When built, the project will be approximately 1 megawatt, where approximately 1.2 million kWh / year will be produced.
It is made available to approximately 150 residents of Eden Prairie, 25% of which are reserved for low-income people, renters and other marginalized communities.
Denherder-Thomas said subscriptions are now accepted and construction will begin when about 60% of subscriptions are full. He said the plan called for construction to begin this fall, with the system up and running by spring 2022.
“We aim to fill subscriptions over the next few months,” he said.
“People on the waiting list will be contacted to agree to allow Xcel to publish their electricity usage history so that Cooperative Energy Futures can size their subscription based on usage,” said declared Hassebroek. “The CEF will then contact them with a subscription proposal that they can either accept or refuse. We have no reason to believe that we will not be operational next year.
Denherder-Thomas explained, “Most of our subscribers and their experience with community solar is that they don’t pay anything up front except $ 25 to become a CEF member, and then every month they pay to Cooperative Energy. Futures an amount less than the discount received on the Excel Energy invoice. There is an immediate saving.
The life expectancy of the solar garden is 25 years, after which several options could be considered. At that point, Denherder-Thomas said the technology could be completely different and a new solar garden program could be considered.
He said it would be hard to imagine what the future of the program might look like after 25 years, and said all options will be considered as the 25-year deadline approaches.
Solar power is emerging as an important part of the country’s energy grid, but there is still a lot of growth to come, Denherder-Thomas said. “This is the first step in a much longer process of creating an energy system that works for us and that is a system rooted in community, rooted in building community wealth,” he said. .
Copyright © 2021 at the newspapers of the sun. Digital distribution of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.