The largest solar array in Minnesota owned by electric cooperatives is now generating electricity for members of Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH).
The Dickinson Solar Project is a collaborative effort between WH and Maple Grove-based Great River Energy, one of its wholesale electric power providers, and brings an additional 2.25 megawatts of renewable energy onto the grid.
A dedication event to recognize the project’s completion was held Friday, Sept. 16, at the solar array’s location south of Buffalo with both cooperatives’ CEOs in attendance, as well as Minnesota Rural Electric Association President & CEO Darrick Moe and Bill Grant, deputy commissioner of energy and telecommunications for the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
“Wright-Hennepin is a leader among all utilities – not just cooperatives – at pursuing solar energy,” said Great River Energy CEO David Saggau. “And they are doing it for the right reasons: their members.”
“The Dickinson solar project was built in response to members’ desire to have safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy,” said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of WH. “We’re pleased to have worked with Great River Energy to bring utility-scale renewables to our membership.”
The project consists of 8,352 panels on a 13-acre site in Buffalo already owned by Great River Energy, so construction did not affect or harm any farmland or wooded areas. The project’s principal contractor was Energy Concepts of Hudson, Wis. Construction began in March 2016, and the project became operational in August.
“The Dickinson Solar Project being dedicated today is the second largest solar installation in Minnesota to date,” said Grant. “Thanks to Great River Energy, Wright-Hennepin and all of their partners for this great addition to Minnesota’s growing transition to clean, renewable energy.”
Both cooperatives have experience with constructing and generating solar energy. Great River Energy completed a 250-kilowatt solar project at its headquarters, as well as 19 smaller arrays across its membership. WH has built three community solar projects, two arrays for the City of Rockford, and a fourth community solar array is planned for later this year.