Great River Energy develops 2.25-MW solar project for member cooperative

Great River Energy said Feb. 5 that it is developing a large-scale solar project in Minnesota to provide energy to a member, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association.

The Dickinson Solar Project – a 2.25-MW solar array – will be a new generation resource that Great River Energy will use to provide wholesale power to Wright-Hennepin. The project will partially replace a terminated contract Great River Energy had for fossil fuel electricity generation.

“This project responds to our members’ interest in more renewable energy offerings and allows us to diversify our power resource mix,” said Steve Nisbet, Wright-Hennepine vice president of external relations and power solutions.

Both Great River Energy and Wright-Hennepin already have experience with constructing and generating solar energy. Great River Energy completed a 250-kW solar project at its headquarters in Maple Grove, as well as 19 smaller arrays across its membership in Minnesota. Wright-Hennepin has built two community solar projects with a third expected to come online later this year. The Dickinson Solar Project will be the largest single solar resource to date for both cooperatives.

The Dickinson Solar Project will be located on 13 acres of land in Buffalo, Minn., already owned by Great River Energy and be composed of 8,360 solar panels created by Heliene, a Canadian manufacturer commonly used for utility-scale solar development. The project’s principal contractor is Energy Concepts, headquartered in Hudson, Wisconsin. Construction is set to begin in late March with full commercial operation expected in early July.

“This project provides another example of how Great River Energy’s power supply continues to evolve and include more renewable resources in response to member demand,” said project manager Andy Bergrud of Great River Energy. “It has also been an opportunity for us to expand our knowledge and experience with utility-scale solar development in collaboration with one of our member cooperatives.”

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 655,000 member consumers. With $4 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation. 

Wright-Hennepin is a member-owned non-profit electric utility that provides electric power to Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County in Minnesota. The cooperative currently serves more than 50,000 electric accounts. It is headquartered in Rockford, Minn.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.