Harvesting the sun! North Dakota's first community solar garden

Another Fargo first!!
Thanks to Cass County Electric and their collaborative effort working with their members, our city of Fargo Renewable Energy and Conservation Committee, and ND Dept of Commerce to bring this sunny project to fruition.
June 1st after over two years of working with us at the city and their members, Cass County Electric announced North Dakota’s first community solar garden Prairie Sun Solar Garden. 224 panels will produce 140,000 KWH a year. http://ccecblog.areavoices.com/…/prairie-sun-community-sol…/
Many don’t realize Fargo as as good a solar resource as Germany the worlds top solar country

Solar Map US Spain Germany: This map indicates that solar radiation for North Dakota is equal to or better than that of Spain and Germany which rank respective as the world’s number three and number one countries for solar energy installations.

Solar Map US Spain Germany: This map indicates that solar radiation for North Dakota is equal to or better than that of Spain and Germany which rank respective as the world’s number three and number one countries for solar energy installations.


With great collaborative community projects like this, Fargo’s and North Dakota’s future’s so bright, we have to wear shades!
Here’s the Forum article by Helmut Schmidt:
FARGO — North Dakota has plenty of energy from coal, oil, gas and wind.
Now Cass County Electric Cooperative and the city of Fargo want to add solar to the mix.
Great to see another Fargo first with this collaboration between the city and Cass County Electric.

Great working with Bruce Grubb (shoulder on the left, I didn’t take the picture) and Cass County Electric over the past few years to move forward with North Dakota’s first community solar garden.


Cass County Electric hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Prairie Sun Community Solar array on Wednesday, June 1, in a field about the 5400 block of 63rd Street South in the city’s far southwest reaches.
Paul Matthys, Cass County Electric’s vice president for member and energy services, told those gathered that the 324 panels for the 102-kilowatt installation will make it the largest array in the state, with room on the 350-by-150-foot lot to double in size if demand from co-op members is there.
Matthys said the co-op and the city are “striving to be good stewards of the environment” in looking to add solar to the mix of power sources.
It will be the first community solar installation in the state.
Members can buy a full panel for an upfront price of $700 or a half panel for $350. The utility also has a payment plan available.
The co-op received a $140,000 grant from the state Commerce Department, much of which comes from the federal Department of Energy, said Marshal Albright, Cass County Electric president and CEO. That subsidy cut the cost of the array by 58 percent, making the project economically feasible, he said. Otherwise, the cost per panel would have been $1,670.
So far, about 70 Cass County Electric members have purchased panels and applications and another 100 are being processed, said Matthys, who added that you must be a member of the co-op to buy a panel.
Cass County Electric now produces 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
The solar array will produce an estimated 142,000 kilowatt hours a year, he said.
Albright said the co-op already gets 30 percent of its energy from wind power.
“We’ve been a leader in wind energy since Day 1,” he said.
Albright and City Commissioner Mike Williams said talks about the solar array began about two years ago and the city agreed to lease the land for the array at a low cost.
Albright said the demonstration project will allow the co-op to gather data on actual power generation for a solar system in this area, as well as identify maintenance needs.
Andrea Holl Pfennig, a program administrator with the state Department of Commerce, said the project “really puts accessibility (to solar power) in everyone’s hands.”
“I’ve really seen a lot of interest in solar,” Pfennig said.
A much smaller-scale solar project is in operation in Carrington, she said. It is run by the Northern Plains and Dakota Valley electric cooperatives.
Williams said Cass County Electric project has “been a long time coming,” but it will be worthwhile.
“We don’t have oil and coal in Fargo, but we have wind and sun,” he said.
A solar garden will be built in north Moorhead in July
Dennis Eisenbraun, energy services manager for Moorhead Public Service, said the city’s Capture the Sun Community Solar Garden will be on 28th Street.
Moorhead’s solar garden will have 66 non-rotating panels.
Eisenbraun said Moorhead customers will pay $480 for the power output of one panel.
~End article~
Here’s an example of how the cost of renewable energy particularly solar has become more efficient as the cost of the panels have come down sharply. This is Lezard’s levelized cost of energy comparing the various energy sources. 
Let’s keep working to prove conservation saves and pays. Making better use of our resources and being good stewards of our environment is an on going effort. Working together, the best is yet to come!

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