East Central Energy celebrates new solar array

A new 2-megawatt solar array built for East Central Energy (ECE) members demonstrates the cooperative’s commitment to renewable energy.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last month at the array’s 15-acre site in Cambridge, Minnesota. ECE staff and directors welcomed Cambridge city officials, members of the North 65 Chamber of Commerce, representatives from Great River Energy and ENGIE North America, as well as Minnesota State Rep. Brian Johnson.

ECE Board Chair Linda Laitala cuts the ribbon on the new Cambridge solar array. The ribbon is being held by Jeff Haase, manager of member services and end-use strategy at Great River Energy; Cambridge Mayor Jim Godfrey; and Andy Seward of ENGIE.

The solar array has a 25-year life expectancy and is estimated to produce enough electricity to power about 300 average homes. More than 3 million kilowatt-hours of energy will be produced each year by more than 7,000 panels that will track the sun.

ENGIE North America, a private energy company, will sell the array’s production under a 25-year contract to Great River Energy, which will then sell the entire output to ECE.

The solar site includes a low-growing, pollinator-friendly meadow. The deep roots of pollinator grasses also have significant soil and storm water benefits.

“We are so thankful the city of Cambridge has this great site for the array,” said ECE President and CEO Steve Shurts. “We will continue to explore additional means to increase our renewable energy supply, with an eye toward our members.”