Since a 2009 installation on St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota has often been home to the Midwest’s largest solar farms. In 2016, it is now home to the two largest solar projects in the region.
Xcel Energy, one of the Midwest’s biggest utilities, announced last week that the Marshall Solar Energy Project, a 62.25 MW facility near Marshall, Minn., began operations and will provide enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 Upper Midwest homes. The utility is purchasing the produced power under a 25-year power-purchase agreement (PPA).
Despite its size, Marshall is not only not the largest solar farm in the Midwest, but it’s not even the largest installation in Xcel’s Minnesota portfolio. Those two honors go to the 100 MW North Star Solar Farm in North Branch, which began commercial operations in December.
“The Marshal Solar Energy Project puts us on a path to achieve our goal to be 63 percent carbon-free by 2030 and we’re excited to see this facility come online.” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy–Minnesota.
According to the company the construction created nearly 300 workers and staff, and the project will produce an estimated $400,000 in annual tax revenue for the state and local governments, as well as area schools, during the operational life of the project.
As pv magazine reported in October, Minnesota regulators approved a plan by Xcel Energy to more than double the amount of wind and solar that it procures over the next 15 years, to reach 1.4 GW of solar by 2030. This includes projects which Xcel either owns or buys power from through long-term contracts.
Xcel isn’t the only Minnesota utility planning to expand its solar footprint in the state. In July, Minnesota Power announced it would issue another request for proposals (RFP) for 300 MW of solar PV.