Solar garden developed by local nonprofit is installed

solar panel installer
A solar panel installer stands on the roof of a Northeast Minneapolis mattress-recycling facility where a community solar garden was recently installed on behalf of Minneapolis Climate Action. Submitted photo

A community solar garden developed by a Lyndale neighborhood nonprofit has been installed and will become operational this spring.

Minneapolis Climate Action, formerly Linden Hills Power and Light, installed the array on the roof of Second Chance Recycling, a Northeast Minneapolis mattress-recycling facility that provides transitional employment to people who were recently incarcerated.

The nonprofit worked with EMERGE Community Development, which runs the recycling facility, and the North Minneapolis-based solar developer Renewable Energy Partners on the project, which will power the recycling facility and about 100 homes.

“This was a huge milestone,” said Kyle Samejima, executive director of Minneapolis Climate Action.

Community solar gardens are arrays that allow renters and property owners without capital or suitable properties for panels to reap the benefits of solar energy.

Under the terms of Minnesota’s community solar program, which was created in 2013, renters and property owners can buy “shares” of solar gardens in their home counties or adjacent counties. That electricity is sold to Xcel Energy, which provides electricity bill credits to the program’s participants based on their shares of the gardens.

Minneapolis Climate Action initially looked to build its array in Linden Hills, said consultant Michael Krause, who worked with the nonprofit on the project. It turned its sights toward  the recycling facility at the suggestion of neighborhood resident and Emerge president and CEO Mike Wynne.

Krause said the effort has been ongoing for over three years. The project took a while to develop in part because Second Chance Recycling needed a new roof, Samejima said.

Renewable Energy Partners installed the array in November.

Minneapolis Climate Action is selling 130 shares of the 182.8-kilowatt garden and plans on giving about 53 to EMERGE. Samejima said she expects that shares will sell out.

To learn more about the project, visit mplsclimate.org.