Community solar project gets started in Minneapolis



solar car port

A business on East Lake Street in Minneapolis is showing off its roof, which will soon be home to a community solar garden.

No, there won’t be any plants on that roof, but the concept is similar to a community garden: People invest in the array to cover their electricity needs, just as they might invest time and labor into a garden that produces vegetables.

Northern Sun Merchandising will host the community array, which is the first project by solar developer MN Community Solar.

Community solar gardens were included in a new law passed this year that requires investor-owned utilities in Minnesota to generate 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by the end of 2020. You can check out a longer story about the new law here.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is helping introduce the array at a news conference this morning.

Ken Bradley, MN Community Solar’s CEO, says community solar gardens will allow more Minnesota electricity customers to participate in solar energy.

“For a long time really the majority of people could not participate in solar energy because there were barriers to the property not being right, to them being a renter or a condo owner and part of an association. What this particular model does is really open up the market to everyone,” he said.

Bradley said most residential and business roofs are not well-suited for solar. The company has been scouting around for good candidates, and several others are in the works.

The solar array at Northern Sun Merchandising is expected to be up and running in 2014.