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Rochester works to reduce its carbon footprint

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A 10 mega watt solar farm, stretching 140 to 160 acres, is well on its way in NW Rochester. It’s part of Rochester Public Utilities Infrastructure Plan, and an ongoing effort to become 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“It’s great to see something in the ground that’s a concrete step in the right direction,” RPU Board member Brian Morgan said.

Morgan says once the project is finished, resident won’t notice its impact on a day to day basis; but it will help keep RPU rates down, among other things. When complete, the solar system will provide enough energy to meet 1.5 percent of RPU’s needs.

“This is part of a mix off generating aspects that are going to provide the city with power,” Morgan said. “The biggest thing is that this is providing energy at a time when its typically at high demand. Sunny days, in the summers, its most useful to us at a time when typically, energy is expensive.”

EDF Renewables broke ground on the project a few months ago. Driving past the site on Valleyhigh Road NW, you can now see a row of huge solar panels.

SOLAR PANEL
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“What we have here is the golden row,” Site Asst. Superintendent Gunnar Burkhardt said, motioning to the front row of panels. “Basically, it’s the prettiest pony in the show. It’s what we use to show off what we are doing here and what you are going to see at the rest of the site.”

The up and coming farm is the closest one in town, but Morgan says if you travel a few counties over, you may notice more of them. He says the panel doesn’t require a fuel source (besides the obvious, the sun) and overall is economically beneficial. The switch to solar, is becoming an environmental trend in Minnesota.

“With all of the going on recently, toward climate change, we are trying to get more renewable energies,” Burkhardt said. “And one of the best ways to do that is solar.”

RPU made its commitment to go toward renewable energy resources back in 2019.

“This is the first concrete step that we are seeing, of a great plan in the next ten years,” Morgan said. “RPU is looking to put in more assets, whether its wind, solar, other generating sources. This is the first step of that renewable plan and its a pretty exciting time for us.”

The solar panel farm is expected to be complete for commercial operation in spring 2022.

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