MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is now home to the largest solar energy facility in the Midwest.

The North Star Solar Project spans 1,000 acres near North Branch and is made up more than 440,000 solar panels. Officials say it will provide enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes.

The project was proposed after a Minnesota statute required public utilities to produce at least 1.5 percent of retail electricity from solar energy by 2020. In the long term, Xcel Energy plans to be 63 percent carbon-free by 2030.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, partners in the project celebrated the end of the construction that began in April.

Chris Clark, the president of Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest division, says renewable energy is the nation’s future.

“We’re really excited,” he said. “This is the largest solar installation that we’ve interconnected to our system at over 100 megawatts. This is really part of our energy future.”

The North Star Solar Project also had a great economic impact for the local economy.

The project employed more than 300 workers throughout construction, and it’s estimated to generate $350,000 a year in property and production tax revenues for Chisago County.

The energy from North Star will also help power the State Capitol, along with wind energy from another nearby plant. While construction is done, the project won’t start harvesting the sun’s energy for a few months.

Comments (13)
  1. umit honderst says:

    1000 acres of wildlife habitat gone……. for probably just enough power to power north branch. i’ve been by it, it’s a real eyesore too. those 300 construction jobs are now gone, but that paragragh explains why chisago county was glad to have it, $350,000 in tax revenue…….. how sad, yet typical of this county’s government.

    1. Dan Mack says:

      Here in the Socialist Welfare Village we are proud to extract the wages from the capitalist private enterprise workers and overtax them for the least economically viable and most environmentally unsound options. We need to drive those nasty taxpayers out of Minnesota to make room for our new diversity welfare imports. Here in the Socialist Village everything is free; energy , EBT cards, housing, legal aid, interpreters, and healthcare. Vote for Hillary and our Socialist party affiliates as many times as you wish this fall. No-ID required. We need every vote we can get.

      1. Gene A. Bovee says:

        A little off subject there, Dan…………

  2. President Truthiness says:

    More “feel good” for elitist Minnesota liberals. Wait until it’s buried under snow and ice this winter, or smashed by hail next spring and summer. I’d bet the taxpayers paid for most of it.

    1. John Grack says:

      It would be nice to see the real numbers so the taxpayers know upfront how much we all paid through grants and subsidies (taxpayer funded). Then the real capitalistic Corp can once more rip the users a new arse every month for the energy costs in their monthly bills. Ain’t no free ride no matter how they coat it.

  3. Rob says:

    “Officials say it will provide enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes.”

    But not at night and not in the winter when the sun is too low in the sky.

    Can’t any of this people do simple arithmetic? It costs more than it is worth.

    1. Gene A. Bovee says:

      Go back and reread the last 3 paragraphs guys. This is a real money-maker for Chisago County, and will be used in conjunction with a wind generation plant.

      1. Dan Mack says:

        Increasing the private land owners taxes is always a good thing. Thankfully those temporary private enterprise construction jobs are long gone now, but with the increased taxes we can hire more union Socialist government workers and increase our entitlement programs. It is definitely a win win for the Village.

        1. Rob says:

          Your sarcasm is too subtle.

          Liberals are too dumb to get that you are mocking them.

  4. Jim F says:

    I am a big fan of solar and clean energy; however, if NextEra would have installed solar panels on the unused roofs of the 20,000 homes it plans on powering; I come up with less than 300 acres of panels (625 sqft/home). Which confuses me, because I thought large scale would be much more efficient. The cost of $9000/home ($180 million) is extremely cheap (50%?) and would be hard to match. I’m not sure how much you would have to pay owners to allow panels on their roof. Really, I am just saying: 1000 acre park? or unused roof tops? What am I missing?

    1. Engineer of the Gods says:

      “What am I missing?”

      That the cost of installation, maintenance and interfacing to the grid far exceeds the value of the energy produced.

      It simply is not viable. Even in the tropics where there is lots of sun. That is why you don’t see solar farms in the tropics. OK?