By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s an urban garden unlike any Minnesota has seen before, and it will be planted on top of a busy downtown parking ramp.

Instead of dirt, this solar garden will be built over Ramp A near Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. Timothy Denherder-Thomas helped make it official on Monday, announcing plans from his company, Cooperative Energy Futures.

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“This is really a way to reduce the energy burden in our community,” said Denherder-Thomas.

They’re teaming up with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Minneapolis to turn the top of Ramp A into a community solar garden.

“It is the way of the future, it’s definitely more of a case model for what we are going to see over the next few decades,” said Denherder-Thomas.

Several local companies will help create panels mounted 18 feet above the ground. People from Hennepin and surrounding counties who are Excel customers can buy into the garden through a subscription and receive monthly energy credits, saving about 7 percent a month.

It’s similar to the project atop Shiloh Temple in North Minneapolis.

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We talked with one of the subscribers there, Akisha Everett.

“We pay excel anyway, we pay for energy anyway, so why don’t we do it as part of a cooperative effort,” said Everett.

The busy mom of two says she is recruiting others to invest in energy gardens because it plants an important seed.

“It is an investment I think, in our kids’ futures,” said Everett.

Energy from the Ramp A solar garden will feed into the Excel power grid.

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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield