Partners have celebrated construction completion of what they are touting as the largest single solar facility in the Midwest and one of the largest in the U.S. Featuring more than 440,000 solar panels spanning 1,000 acres in Chisago County, Minn., the 100 MW North Star Solar project is expected to come online in December and produce enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes.
According to an Xcel Energy press release, Swinerton Renewable Energy built the $180 million facility and employed more than 300 people during peak construction.The two companies joined project partners Chisago County, D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC (DESRI) and Community Energy Solar in marking the end of construction.
“We are proud to be the host community for the largest solar project in the Midwest,” said Mike Robinson, Chisago County commissioner. “This facility brings real economic value to our community and the people who live here. The construction of North Star created many jobs, and the local area is expected to receive about $350,000 of production and property tax revenues each year from the project.”
Originally developed by Community Energy Solar, the property is now managed by an affiliate of DESRI.
“We appreciate the hard work of our partners Xcel Energy, Community Energy and Swinerton in helping bring this large-scale project to completion,” said Bryan Martin, managing director and head of U.S. private equity at the D.E. Shaw group. “We are proud of the jobs that have been created, as well as the clean energy this facility will provide to the region’s residents and businesses for years to come.”
“This project is part of our vision to bring utility-scale solar at a competitive price to Minnesota and the broader Midwest,” said Eric Blank, president of Community Energy Solar. “We were drawn to Chisago County as a great combination of available land, welcoming communities and a strong interconnection point that is close to Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Xcel Energy will purchase power from North Star as part of a 25-year deal to provide solar energy to customers across the Upper Midwest. Additionally, the electricity generated at North Star will help power the Minnesota State Capitol Complex through Xcel Energy’s Renewable*Connect Government Pilot Program, if approved by the Public Utilities Commission.
“We’re pleased the largest solar project in the Midwest will deliver the clean, renewable energy our customers want,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy – Minnesota. “We are on a path that more than doubles wind and solar energy options, and the North Star project plays a role in our goal to be 63 percent carbon free by 2030.”
Xcel Energy says the company’s ultimate goal is to have 8% of its electricity generated from solar by 2030.