Minnesota cooperatives complete 2-MW solar project

The largest solar array in Minnesota owned by electric cooperatives is now generating electricity for members of Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH), said Great River Energy in a Sept. 21 statement.

The Dickinson Solar Project is a collaborative effort between WH and Great River Energy, one of its wholesale electric power providers, and brings an additional 2.25 MW of renewable energy onto the grid. A dedication event to recognize the project’s completion was held Sept. 16, at the solar array’s location south of Buffalo with both cooperatives’ CEOs in attendance, as well as Minnesota Rural Electric Association President & CEO Darrick Moe and Bill Grant, deputy commissioner of energy and telecommunications for the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

“Wright-Hennepin is a leader among all utilities – not just cooperatives – at pursuing solar energy,” said Great River Energy CEO David Saggau. “And they are doing it for the right reasons: their members.”

“The Dickinson solar project was built in response to members’ desire to have safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy,” said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of WH.

The project consists of 8,352 panels on a 13-acre site in Buffalo already owned by Great River Energy, so construction did not affect or harm any farmland or wooded areas. The project’s principal contractor was Energy Concepts of Hudson, Wis. Construction began in March 2016, and the project became operational in August.

Both cooperatives have experience with constructing and generating solar energy. Great River Energy completed a 250-kW solar project at its headquarters, as well as 19 smaller arrays across its membership area. WH has built three community solar projects, two arrays for the City of Rockford, and a fourth community solar array is planned for later this year.

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 665,000 member consumers.

Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association is a member-owned non-profit electric utility that provides electric power to Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County. 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.