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Great river energyThe second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota is going solar. Twenty-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays will be popping up all over the state, as 18 of Great River Energy’s (GRE) 28 member cooperatives, for which it produces power, diversify their energy generation with solar. On top of the 20Kw base systems GRE will own and operate for the coops, individual coops have the option to add additional PV for community solar gardens. Energy Concepts’ exceptional track record with project development and management especially at the commercial scale won the bid to help GRE plant the seeds for solar.

Pleased that our company’s merits were recognized in GRE’s competitive selection process, we used it as a springboard from which to build rapport and trust. “It’s a two-year project with potential for additional projects as more coops become interested, so I’m glad to have established such a good relationship with them from the very beginning,” said Sales Manager, Jon Richter.

Dakota Electric – Farmington, MN Energy Concepts will have installed seven systems by the end of this year and has eleven more on its plate for 2015. While GRE will own and operate the 20kW arrays, the systems will be located at each of the 18 member cooperatives’ headquarters. With the community in mind, GRE kept their solar local with sixteen of the sites to feature Made in Minnesota (MiM) compliant and Bloomington-based tenKsolar ground-mounted systems as seen at Dakota Electric Association in Farmington, MN pictured at right; another MiM manufacturer, based out of Hibbing, MN, Silicon Energy will be installed at the other two sites. The collected stats from the systems will be a learning opportunity about system performance. GRE’s goal is to use the systems as a means of education and promotion for solar along with demonstrating to their patrons their commitment to renewable resources. They hope this will speed up the understanding and use of solar at other coops.

Approximately one-third of the 18 sites have chosen to plant additional seeds for community solar by allowing their clients to buy solar shares directly in the form of community solar gardens. The coops have the choice of adding on to their GRE base system in 20kW increments in order to serve their community’s solar initiatives. A coop client can buy a set amount of solar, and then receive a credit on their electricity bill for the kWh produced by their purchased solar share. Pictured below is Kandiyohi Power in Spicer, MN, who added 57.4kW. “It’s very forward thinking of GRE to pave the way for cooperative and community-based solar around the world, starting right here at home in Minnesota. It is a great opportunity as well for Energy Concepts to be on the front lines of solar adoption,” said Richter.

When all projects are completed, over 500kW will have been installed. As the GRE sites scattered across the state plug into their newly installed solar arrays, Energy Concepts president and founder, Craig Tarr, PE, reflects on the company’s work, “This project firmly positions Energy Concepts in our desired sector – large commercial/small utility projects in the 500kw range; it’s where I believe we can have the greatest impact.” Projects of this magnitude require an astute understanding of the work done both in the office and out in the field. Fortunately, as these 18 new arrays indicate, Energy Concepts has the experience to handle any task with ease, no matter the size.

Great river energy panels