It seems like community solar gardens are popping up everywhere, and another is in the works for Chippewa County.

It seems like community solar gardens are popping up everywhere, and another is in the works for Chippewa County. The county is at the forefront of the Green Energy Revolution that is sweeping the country as producers and consumers look for more efficient and cost friendly renewable energy options.

Several community solar gardens have already been built in the county, and private parties have also invested in the technology. Wind turbines will soon be constructed near Granite Falls. The latest addition to the list of solar gardens in the county has a different twist to it.

James MacLeod, Program Director for 360 Solar Power Solutions, explained. “We’re building this garden in Clara City. Unlike all the other projects around here, this one is strictly for residential home owners.”

David Jackson, COO-Partner with 360 Solar Power Solutions, said, “This is a community-based project. We reach out to communities and make sure everyone is educated on what we offer and how it all works.”

Residents of Chippewa County, as well as residents of adjacent counties, will be able to sign up for service. “We’ve had a really good response from the locals here. They are very open to the idea of renewable energy and saving money on their electric bills. Any Xcel customer in Chippewa, Swift, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, Renville, and Kandyohi would be able to sign up,” said MacLeod.

The Clara City solar garden will produce 1.3 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 250 to 300 homes.

MacLeod explained how subscribing to the community solar garden works. “What we do is we build the solar garden. We will talk to interested homeowners and review their annual utility bill history to determine how many panels to allocate to them to offset their energy usage at 100 percent renewable.

“Whatever energy they produce goes through a meter owned by Xcel Energy. Xcel will credit a homeowner 100 percent of the retail rate of energy that goes through that meter. Then that energy goes directly into the grid system.”

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