D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC (DESRI) has acquired the 100 MW North Star Solar Project from Community Energy Inc. and has begun construction on the facility, which is located in Chisago County, Minn.
According to DESRI, once North Star is completed, it will be the single largest solar energy project in the Midwest and one of the largest in the U.S. North Star is located on private agricultural land and has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Minnesota-based Xcel Energy.
“We are pleased to partner with renewable industry leaders like Xcel Energy and Community Energy as we begin construction on the largest solar energy project in the Midwest,” says Bryan Martin, managing director and head of U.S. private equity at the D. E. Shaw group. “DESRI is excited to expand its footprint into Minnesota with a groundbreaking project that we expect to provide both jobs and clean energy to the region’s citizens and businesses.”
“This large-scale solar project is part of our plan to double the amount of renewable energy we deliver to customers and achieve a 63 percent carbon-free energy by 2030,” says Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy Minnesota.
According to DESRI, the North Star project will comprise more than 400,000 crystalline PV modules using single-axis tracking technology that helps to increase both the project’s output and the value of the output to the utility system. In total, the project is expected to generate enough power for approximately 20,000 homes in its first year.
“This project is part of our vision to bring utility-scale solar at a competitive price to Minnesota and the broader Midwest,” says Eric Blank, president of Community Energy Solar LLC. “We were drawn to Chisago County as a great combination of available land, welcoming communities and a strong interconnection point that is close to the Minneapolis/St. Paul load centers.”
The project will be constructed by national renewable energy construction firm Swinerton Renewable Energy and is expected to come online late this year.
“North Star will not only offer over 300 jobs during construction, but also provide the local workforce with valuable training that will benefit future solar projects in the area,” says George Hershman, senior vice president and general manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy.