Distributed Energy Resources

Grand Rapids Public Utilities collaborates on solar-plus-storage project

A solar-plus-storage project in the City of Grand Rapids, Minn., is the result of a collaboration between Minnesota public power utility Grand Rapids Public Utilities and several other parties.

US Solar is developing the two-megawatt solar array and one-megawatt/2.5-hour energy storage battery on city-owned land near the Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport.

The solar array will include single-axis trackers and bifacial modules which significantly increase the efficiency of the solar array.

The project is expected to start producing energy for Grand Rapids Public Utilities customers by the end of 2021.

Along with US Solar and Grand Rapids Public Utilities, other parties involved in the project are Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of investor-owned Allete, the Itasca Clean Energy Team, and the City of Grand Rapids.

US Solar plans to install a mix of pollinator-friendly, low lying, deep-rooted plants throughout the array. This native pollinator habitat supports bees, butterflies, and other local wildlife. This vegetation has also been proven to decrease stormwater runoff and improve the quality of soil, water, and air, US Solar said in a Dec. 10 news release.

A recent article in Public Power Daily detailed how public power utilities across the country are working hard on biodiversity efforts in their communities and one example of these efforts can be found in their support of pollinator populations.

In terms of positive economic benefits, Grand Rapids Public Utilities ratepayers “will receive affordable, reliable, clean energy throughout the 25-year life span of the project,” US Solar noted. The project represents over $6 million in private investment and will support over 25 construction jobs.

Over the course of the project term, it will generate over $465,000 in local tax revenue and land lease payments that will benefit the City of Grand Rapids and its residents.