At present, the main solar-electric generator in southwest Minnesota has made the residents of that area very proud.
Two mega watts of electricity are produced by these solar panels — by which 250 homes could be powered — that are connected to the Xcel Energy Distribution system and were activated on Jan4th.
Over 32 rows with over 7000 solar panels sit on what is private property covering an area of almost 7 ½ football fields.
The electricity Produced by these panels will be sold to Xcel Energy based on a 20 year agreement of whose terms the public is not aware of.
Solar Electric Power Association ranked Xcel Energy as fifth for solar electric capacity among United States utilities. In the year 2011, Xcel Energy by adding a 100 megawatts of solar energy to its national grid doubled their solar power capacity.
In 2011 when first approached for the project, Murray County had to bring in a law change.
Joan Christoffels, Murray County Zoning Administrator said, “at that time, Solar power wasn’t an allowed use, so the county had to go through an ordinance update.”
In April 2011, a public meeting was held by the commissioners of Murray County. In due course, the ordinances were updated and in October 2012, construction had begun.
Slayton City Clerk Josh Malchow commented that though the project was not on city land and the city was not gaining tax benefits from it, Slayton as a town was benefiting from it.
“By picking Slayton, they have housed the largest solar project here and also put us on the map” he said.
Christoffels said that the project would impact the residents of Slayton positively as the power generated will eventually be fed into the city.
Malchow also commented that the project was a bit of a trial run.
He said- “it’s simply an experiment to see whether solar power is as effective as wind power or some of the other natural energy resources.”
Blattner energy, Avon provided the engineering expertise to construct this project; they also provide construction and procurement services to developers of renewable-energy Pan North America.
D.H. Blather & Sons Inc. is the main holding company of Blattner energy, one of the companies that helped James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railroad in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The project developer, Ecos Energy LLC is based in Minnesota and is a renewable-energy development and services company specializing in providing development services for renewable-energy projects throughout the U.S., including wind and solar farms.
There has been a dramatic increase in Solar installations in Minnesota and across the United States. In the year 2012, the state of Minnesota more than doubled the number of kilowatts produced by solar panels as compared to the year 2011.