Connexus Energy celebrates innovative solar-plus-storage project

Connexus Energy encouraged members, partners, stakeholders and others to “celebrate the sun” at an event held as an opportunity for people to see one of the cooperative’s innovative solar-plus-storage projects up close.

Representatives from the City of Ramsey, Athens Township, NextEra, ENGIE and the Connexus Energy board of directors are pictured together on stage at the Celebrate the Sun event.

Representatives from the City of Ramsey, Athens Township, NextEra, ENGIE and the Connexus Energy board of directors are pictured together on stage at the Celebrate the Sun event.

The cooperative – headquartered in Ramsey, Minn. – has one project located in Ramsey and another in Athens Township. Together, these are believed to be among the first instances of using batteries integrated with a solar array to manage peak demand in the United States. The two sites will add 10 megawatts of renewable energy to Connexus Energy’s energy mix, along with the integration of 15 megawatts of battery storage between the two sites.

“We listen to members who tell us they want renewable energy without it costing more,” said Connexus Energy CEO Greg Ridderbusch. “Most solar energy is produced when there is a lower demand and the price is lower. We will discharge stored solar energy during peak hours when energy costs are the highest.”

Brian Burandt, Connexus Energy’s vice president of power supply, said it has taken several years to turn this project into a reality.

“We are in the home stretch and are very pleased at the pace and quality of construction,” Burandt said. “ENGIE North America, formerly SoCore Energy, handled the solar portion and NextEra Energy Resources took care of the battery storage. The two solar arrays with the battery storage will be fully operational by the end of the year.”

“We are pleased to partner with Connexus on this forward-looking project,” said Jason Utton, vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. “Pairing solar energy with innovative battery storage technology is a big win for customers who get to benefit from more affordable, renewable energy for more hours of the day.”

Ridderbusch noted that Fresh Energy, the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab and the National Renewables Cooperative Association were among a number of organizations the cooperative relied upon for advice and support as this project was developed.