Sunrise brief: More community solar is added in Minnesota


United Renewable Energy and New Energy Equity finished work on three community solar gardens in Minnesota, adding 4.3 MW of capacity to power local businesses and school districts by subscription. Subscribers receive bill credits from the utility, giving them the benefits of solar energy with no equipment purchase, maintenance, or solar panels required on their own premises.

New Energy Equity has developed over 130 projects in Minnesota, totaling more than 160 MW. United Renewable Energy has participated in more than 40 MW of those projects. United Renewable was responsible for the engineering, procurement, and construction on the three new projects. Kenyon Energy will supply permanent financing.

Notre Dame-backed solar

The 20 MW St. Joseph Solar Farm, developed by Indiana Michigan Power in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, entered service in northern Indiana, near South Bend.

The facility is the utility’s fifth, and largest, solar project. The university committed to buying 40% of the renewable energy certificates produced by the solar farm.

After a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, construction began in July 2020. The project includes 57,720 First Solar modules and occupies 210 acres of utility-owned land.

The utility owns and operates five solar farms, six run-of-river hydroelectric facilities, and buys power from three wind farms. It also operates the 2,278 MW D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Michigan.

Coal’s ongoing demise

Rapid recent cost declines for solar and wind now mean that the combined fuel, maintenance, and other costs of most existing coal-fired power plants are higher than the all-in costs of new solar and wind projects, accelerating the retirement of those fossil-fired plants.

A new report from Energy Innovation compares the economics of each coal plant in the U.S. against the expected economics of potential new solar and wind plants, using publicly available data.

It found that almost three-quarters of the 239 GW of coal capacity that was online in 2019 was either uneconomic compared to local solar or wind or was slated for retirement within five years. Out of the 235 plants in the U.S. coal fleet, 182 plants, or 80%, are uneconomic or already retiring.

LS Power completes acquisition

LS Power said it completed its acquisition of distributed energy infrastructure solutions provider GI Energy, which is rebranded as Endurant Energy. The newly branded business unit supports microgrids, battery energy storage systems, and integrated eco-districts. Its portfolio ranges from single-technology energy retrofits to large-scale microgrids integrated with resource management and smart-city infrastructure.

In a statement, LS Power said it intends to invest a “substantial amount of additional capital” to advance Endurant’s offering. Endurant joins LS Power’s other distributed energy resource companies, including CPower Energy Management and EVgo.

Endurant is based in Chicago, with offices in New York City as well as Anaheim and West Hollywood, California.


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