Solar energy capacity in Minnesota takes a big leap during 2016

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s solar energy capacity made great strides in the last year and state officials don’t expect the pace of growth to slow down.

In 1996, enough solar energy was generated to power 16 homes in Minnesota. By 2015, 35 megawatts of capacity was generated, or enough to power more than 39,000 homes. And last year, that capacity grew to 250 megawatts.

According to a press release, Chisago County has more solar capacity that any other county in the state. Minnesota’s largest solar energy facility, the new North Star project, is in Chisago County. There, solar panels produce up to 100 megawatts, power purchased by Xcel Energy.

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Solar energy projects at a Metropolitan Council wastewater treatment plant in Shakopee and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently came on line, boosting the state’s capacity.