Star Tribune's Patrick Kennedy, on the MSP solar project:
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is planning the largest solar power installation in Minnesota to date.
The $25.4 million project, announced Thursday at an airport news conference that included Gov. Mark Dayton and explorer and climate activist Will Steger, is expected to generate nearly 20 percent of the airport’s electricity after its completion in the fall of 2015.
The 3-megawatt solar installation will be built on two parking ramps in front of the main terminal. The solar panels will be mounted above the top parking level of the ramps so as not to take up any of the parking spots.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission hired Minneapolis-based GreenMark in March 2012 to explore energy projects for the airport. GreenMark is an environmental marketing agency that specializes in putting together sponsors to develop clean energy and environmental projects at major venues. GreenMark was behind the innovative rainwater recycling/clean-water partnership with Pentair and the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Mark Andrew, founder of GreenMark, kicked off the Thursday news conference by saying, “This is the beginning of scaled solar power in the state.”
It’s a signature project that highlights Dayton’s clean energy initiatives, including a new solar energy standard enacted by the Legislature last year requiring investor-owned utilities to produce 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2020. The requirement is expected to accelerate investment in solar projects throughout the state.
The airport array will be 50 percent larger than the state’s current solar leader, a 2-megawatt system in Slayton, Minn., that went on line in 2013 to serve customers of Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. Just south of the airport, retailer Ikea built a large rooftop solar project in 2012 that was the state’s first 1-megawatt array. One megawatt is 1 million watts.
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