Dakota Electric dedicates solar facility

Dakota Electric dedicates new solar facility

Dakota Electric Association dedicated its 1-megawatt solar facility Aug. 31, along with guests from Great River Energy and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Dakota Electric Association members will soon receive electricity from a new 1-megawatt solar facility built specifically for the cooperative’s member-owners. Dakota Electric’s board of directors, along with Great River Energy and SoCore Energy personnel, held a dedication Aug. 31 at the joint solar facility in Marshan Township, Minn.

The 5-acre solar site is expected to have a 25-year life and will produce enough electricity to power about 150 average homes. The 3,906 panels, all visible from Highway 316, will produce more than 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of power annually.

Attending the dedication of this utility-scale solar site were a variety of dignitaries, including John Tuma from the Public Utilities Commission.

“We are pleased to provide this renewable energy resource to our members,” Dakota Electric’s CEO Greg Miller said. “This project will add to our existing wholesale renewable portfolio that includes wind, solar, hydro and refuse-derived fuel resources.”

SoCore Energy owns the solar project, but the power is dedicated to Dakota Electric members through a power purchase contract with Great River Energy.

An added benefit is the grounds around the solar panels will be planted with pollinator-friendly plants, so it will provide habitat that is helpful to bees and other pollinators.

“Dakota Electric is a leader among cooperatives at pursuing solar electricity,” said Rick Lancaster, Great River Energy vice president and chief generation officer. “And they are doing it for the right reasons: because their members want it.”

“This system will reduce the amount of electricity Dakota Electric will need to purchase that is generated from non-renewable sources,” said Dakota Electric Board Chair Jim Sheldon as he welcomed guests.

“This project represents a start for Dakota Electric in diversifying into utility-scale solar power,” Miller said. “Our board and staff are committed to this so watch for announcements on more projects to come.”

After a ribbon-cutting event, attendees received a tour of the solar site and learned about the process of producing electricity from the sun.