Minnesota Cuts the Ribbon on the State Capitol Complex‘s First Solar Array

ST. PAUL, MN — Electricity to the Minnesota Capitol complex is getting greener with the activation of the first phase of a large new solar array on the roof of the Minnesota Senate Building (MSB).  The project, overseen by the Minnesota Department of Administration, was formally opened today with a ribbon-cutting.  Partners in the project include Mortenson Construction and Gephardt Electric, who installed the system, and Xcel Energy.

“The State of Minnesota is leading by example, working to increase renewable energy at the State Capitol to better protect Minnesotans’ health and our environment,” said Governor Mark Dayton.  “Thanks to statewide, bipartisan efforts, Minnesota has already met our goal to generate 25 percent of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2025.  I urge the Legislature to adopt the ‘50 by 30’ Renewable Energy Standard, to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a better future, and an even stronger clean energy economy, in Minnesota.”

The solar project consists of 414 twenty-one square foot panels that produce 133,000 peak watts of direct current power for the building.  In addition, solar arrays are planned for seven additional sites on the Capitol Complex.

“This marks another example of how state government can lead by example honoring Governor Dayton’s commitment to greatly increase the use of renewable energy,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman.  “This project, combined with Xcel’s Renewable*Connect Government program, means that the Capitol Complex will get a third of its energy from Minnesota renewable resources.”

The Senate Building was identified early in its design as an ideal candidate for a solar array because of its uninterrupted access to sunshine for all 12 months of the year.  The facility was built “solar-ready,” — infrastructure for solar panels were included in the building’s original construction.

“Since the state’s electric utility bill includes a kilowatt hour charge based on peak demand, the solar array on the Senate Building will produce the most power just when power is the most expensive — the hot afternoons of the summer,” said Commissioner Massman.  “This saves money, and reduces the stress on the electrical grid for everyone.”

The solar project helps state government meet Governor Dayton’s call for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, along with a number of other sustainability goals.  More solar installations in the Capitol area are on the drawing board.

“It’s an ambitious and wise agenda,” said Larry Herke, Director of the Office of Enterprise Sustainability in the Department of Administration, “that works to insure that the resources we use today are there for future generations, too.”

Minnesota Senate Building Solar Project Quick Facts

Total # of Panels: 414

Panel Dimensions: 77” x 39” x 1.8”

Capacity: 164.4 megawatt hours of electricity per year

Total Cost: $484,840, from existing Senate Building project funds

Simple Payback: 17.1 years

Expected Useful Life: 25 Years

Total Annual Savings: $18,048

Emissions Saved Each Year: Equivalent to 65,646 pounds of coal or 2,453 household BBQ propane tanks.

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SOURCE: news provided by MN.GOV