Power Up Winona-Community Solar and local institutions heard from three solar developers on Friday November 21 at St. Mary’s University. The short workshop was the culmination of a SE Clean Energy Resource Team grant to explore the options and possibilities that local institutions can play in a future community solar array to be located in the Xcel billing area of Winona County.
The 2013 Minnesota Energy Omnibus bill created the framework for the Xcel community solar gardens program. Gardens can be established with up to 1 megawatt of solar, and customers can subscribe and then receive a credit for the electricity produced on their bill. The program greatly expands the public’s access to solar beyond just 25% of homeowners who have sufficient solar access to install a residential system.
Power Up Winona Community Solar was formed to bring different voices to the table and see what kind of motivation and efforts local residents would want to play in bringing a community array to the Winona area. Over the summer the group reached out to Winona State, St Mary’s University, the City of Winona, Minnesota State College Southeast Technical and the Winona Area Public School system inviting their representatives to learn how they could subscribe or possibly act as a host site for a solar array.
Friday’s workshop included developers from Minnesota who have experience with community solar projects and have a wide range of options and strategies for local groups interested in such projects. The developers included Minnesota Community Solar, TruNorth Solar and Michael Krause of Kandiyo Consulting.
Participating in the workshop/presentation were; from WSU, President Olson, and members from the Sustain Winona Committee, St. Mary’s University, Superintendent West from Winona Area Public Schools, the City of Winona, and members from the Power Up Winona Community Solar group.
Power Up Winona will complete the final steps of the grant by writing a document with the help of Stoel Rives law firm.
Two of the primary steps of bringing an array to the Winona area include; acquiring or leasing 3-8 acres of land in the Xcel utility area and signing up subscribers who are interested in the next step in making renewable energy their primary source of power. PUWCS is looking for both subscribers and landowners who may be interested in participating in the project. Landowners interested in selling or leasing land for the project can contact mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site and submit a comment.