The city of Cologne, Minn., voted last Monday to source all of the electricity to power its municipal buildings from a community solar array. The city will source its power from a SunShare solar garden that’s being developed through Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program.
"This decision creates a win-win for our community members and the City," said City Administer Jesse Dickson. "By joining SunShare's solar project, the City is both doing the right thing environmentally and cutting down on our electricity costs, our taxpayer dollars can more efficiently be used for additional projects and infrastructure. Whatever we save can be put back toward the community."
The 2,700 solar panels in the project will allow the city to source 100 percent of its electricity from the sun. As importantly it will allow the city to fix its energy costs at current levels for the duration of the contract with SunShares, which means it won’t be subject to changing oil, gas or coal prices.
Cologne also is becoming the first city in Minnesota to go 100 percent solar through a community solar garden and one of the early adopters of sourcing its power from a community solar garden. SunShare said the first city in the nation to make such a choice was Colorado’s Manitou Springs.
While the choice was an economic one for the city, it was also one that meets the city’s forward-liking goals. Dickson said the city is attempting to attract new businesses and young professionals and sees the innovation and leadership gained through going solar as part of that endeavor.
"The City of Cologne has set an example for communities across Minnesota that renewable energy is a serious priority for cities," said Ken Bradley, Director of Business Development at SunShare. "Leadership from the City of Cologne and the hundreds of citizens choosing Community Solar will drive greater adoption of renewable energy in communities in Minnesota and across the nation," Bradley added.
Cologne was able to choose community solar thanks to Minnesota’s Solar Energy Jobs Act, which passed in 2013. The legislation allowed community solar projects. While in this case the city bought in to the array, the public can also buy into community solar projects and use the electricity generated through their portion of array as an investment or to offset their electric costs, depending on how the solar garden arrangement is set up.
The city chose to go solar after reviewing the plans for about two months and holding multiple hearings.Tweet