To make locally produced, renewable energy available to more
people who live, work, study, or worship in St. Anthony Park.
—goal of the Community Solar action group
Although we focus on community solar—and hope to announce subscription opportunities soon— we also support those whose best option is solar on their own property. In fact, if you own a home or business in a sunny location, your best solar investment may be on your own site. Check your potential for generating solar electricity at the Minnesota Solar Suitability website. Enter your address, then click to show the building's roof slopes (see site links). Solar water heating is also possible for homeowners and businesses with significant hot water needs.
Our group takes a community focus because community solar extends the opportunity to more of us. For many property owners, a shaded roof—and/or the upfront costs—makes solar panels impractical. Fortunately, St. Anthony Park has many large, flat-roofed buildings, both private and public. These are an opportunity for community solar arrays.
It's the “community solar garden” model that's been in the news. With this model, people or businesses buy shares in a solar array that feeds the power grid. As electricity is produced, credits for their share of that power appear on their own electric bills.
The diagram below shows how it works in the Twin Cities area: A building owner with a large sunny roof leases roof space to a solar developer. The developer has the array installed, keeps track of subscribers, and makes arrangements with Xcel Energy. Payment systems and savings rates vary. For info and useful checklists, visit CERTS' solar garden web page.
We formed a walking solar array at the 2013 Fourth of July parade.
The St. Anthony Park Community Solar action group has met regularly since 2013. We've talked with the city of St. Paul about community solar on city-owned buildings, with a goal that this could be replicated elsewhere, and we continue to talk with other building owners. We hope to work with an existing solar developer with expertise on regulations and finance.
We hope to announce subscription opportunities for a neighborhood community solar garden soon. “Soon” remains elusive, but we hope that many of you who live, work, or worship in St. Anthony Park will consider the possibility as you review any community solar offers you see in the news or in your mail.