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Minnesota’s First Community Owned Solar Farm

The WH Solar Community, the first community owned solar project in Minnesota, has been officially opened.

While not a huge solar farm (just 171 panels), the facility is also the first of its kind to incorporate battery storage.

Each member purchased one or more solar panels and will receive a kilowatt-hour credit on their power bill each month. The credit is based on the number of panels purchased, as well as the amount of the energy produced by the solar array each month.

“The WH Solar Community is a great way for members to own local generation and participate in the excitement of solar in bite size pieces,” said Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) president and CEO Mark Vogt when the project was originally announced.

“Our solar community model makes it easy for members to own solar without installing equipment on their property or worrying about maintaining their system.”

This project quickly sold out and WH says it is now taking reservations for panels in a second solar community, which will likely be built this year.

WH is a member-owned non-profit electric utility servicing Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County. The utility currently services 46,000 accounts.

The concept of community-owned solar has been popular in Australia; but of the dozens of communities wanting to develop wind and solar farms; few have received funding to assist in the early stages.

In the lead-up to the Federal Election, the Australian Greens unveiled details of its Australian Community Renewable Energy Plan; a fully costed $100 million initiative over 5 years to provide funding for feasibility grants, project management and specialist expertise for community owned renewable energy projects.

Community solar farms are particularly attractive to investors who for whatever reason are not able to install solar panels on their own premises, but wish to play a role in Australia’s clean energy future.

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