Signing a contract with SunShare, Cologne has become the first city in the state of Minnesota to be powered 100% by community solar.
The decision by the City of Cologne marks the culmination of a public process lasting about two months, including a presentation by SunShare, public meetings, and several hours of discussion between City Council members.
A Historic Vote For Community Solar
After a historic vote, the city of Cologne recently announced the signing of a contract to power up to 100% of its city facilities’ energy needs from community solar. The energy will be generated by over 2,700 solar panels in SunShare’s solar gardens currently under development through the Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program. The community solar project is expected to produce enough solar energy to power around 140 homes for 25 years.
The Minnesota State legislature passed the Solar Energy Jobs Act in 2013, with provisions for community solar written into the act. Designed to widen citizen and community access to locally generated solar energy, community solar solves the issues related to space and funding constraints. Apartment dwellers, residential homeowners, small businesses, and large organizations without the proper roof space or the funds to afford their own systems now have the option to choose community solar power.
Helping to Mitigate Global Warming
Cologne City Administrator Jesse Dickson said, “This decision creates a win-win for our community members and the City.” Dickson continued, “By joining SunShare’s Solar project, the City is both doing the right thing environmentally and cutting down on our electricity costs.”
Community solar provides both economic and environmental solutions. By choosing community solar, the City of Cologne will fix the city’s energy costs at today’s levels, protect the city from volatile fossil fuel prices, and help to mitigate global warming. In addition, notes Dickson, the city is promoting innovation and leadership as part of a broader goal to attract new businesses and young professionals to the community.
With the adoption of the new community solar deal, City Administrator Dickson noted, “our taxpayer dollars can more efficiently be used for additional projects and infrastructure. Whatever we save can be put back toward the community.”
The Rise of SunShare Community Solar in the US
The first city in the US was signed up about a year ago, when SunShare enrolled the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado. SunShare will provide Manitou Springs city facilities with 100% of its power needs through community solar. To date, the City of Cologne is the first city in the state of Minnesota choosing to source 100% of its energy needs from community solar.
“The City of Cologne has set an example for communities across Minnesota that renewable energy is a serious priority for cities,” said Ken Bradley, Director of Business Development at SunShare. Bradley added, “Leadership from the City of Cologne and the hundreds of citizens choosing Community Solar will drive greater adoption of renewable energy in communities in Minnesota and across the nation.”