Wright-Hennepin Electric's community solar garden. Photo courtesy of Wright-Hennepin Electric
TJ Farms will host the new community solar garden near St. Cloud
On March 30, Minneapolis-based solar energy developer MN Community Solar announced plans to install a community solar garden in Clear Lake, outside of St. Cloud. The garden will be hosted by TJ Farms of Becker, MN, on a parcel of land previously used to grow potatoes, but which more recently has not been put to productive use.
In the April issue of Minnesota Business, we took a look at community solar gardens and how they've allowed businesses and individuals alike an opportunity to invest in locally produced, renewable energy. The gardens are installed on host sites (often atop businesses with ample roof space or on empty or unused parcels of land); community members can then pay a subscription fee which helps cover installation costs and pays out as a discount to subscribers' monthly energy bills. The TJ Farms solar garden will offer this option to subscribers in St. Cloud, Clear Lake, and the surrounding area.
A solar garden has already been constructed in Rockford, Minn., and several more are in development across the Twin Cities and the state. According to the US Department of Energy, community solar gardens are a source of significant economic development for the state. New community solar projects will create over 8,300 new jobs during construction in 2015 and 2016, as well as 158 new permanent jobs, according to a press release from MN Community Solar.