Construction completed on 100-MW North Star Solar

Construction is complete on the 100-MW North Star Solar project in Chisago County, Minnesota, making it the largest single solar facility in the Midwest, Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) said Oct. 19.

 More than 440,000 solar panels spanning 1,000 acres near North Branch are expected to produce enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes. The project is expected to come online in December 2016, Xcel Energy said in a news release.

Xcel Energy will purchase power from North Star as part of a 25 year deal to provide solar energy to customers across the Upper Midwest. Additionally, the electricity generated at North Star will help power the Minnesota State Capitol Complex through Xcel Energy’s Renewable*Connect Government Pilot Program, if approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

The 100-MW North Star Solar project is a $180m investment in Minnesota as well as Chisago County. Swinerton Renewable Energy built the facility and employed more than 300 people during peak construction. It joined partners Chisago County, D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. (DESRI), Community Energy Solar and Xcel Energy, to celebrate the end of construction.

Originally developed by Community Energy Solar, the property is now managed by an affiliate of DESRI.

“We appreciate the hard work of our partners, Xcel Energy, Community Energy, and Swinerton, in helping bring this large-scale project to completion,” said Bryan Martin, managing director and head of U.S. Private Equity at the D.E. Shaw group. “We are proud of the jobs that have been created, as well as the clean energy this facility will provide to the region’s residents and businesses for years to come.” 

“This project is part of our vision to bring utility-scale solar at a competitive price to Minnesota and the broader Midwest,” said Eric Blank, president of Community Energy Solar, LLC. “We were drawn to Chisago County as a great combination of available land, welcoming communities and a strong interconnection point that is close to Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

“We’re pleased the largest solar project in the Midwest will deliver the clean, renewable energy our customers want,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy – Minnesota. “We are on a path that more than doubles wind and solar energy options and the North Star project plays a role in our goal to be 63% carbon free by 2030.”

Xcel utility Northern States Power has won Minnesota PUC approval on a 15-year resource plan that dramatically ramps up the company’s commitment to renewable energy in the state.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at