Some may see it as a shiny carport, but to many businesses and residents near downtown Minneapolis, the new community solar garden atop the MnDOT-owned Ramp A parking lot near Target Field is an energy opportunity.
MnDOT partnered with Cooperative Energy Futures to build the community solar garden. Subscribers began earning credits towards their energy costs in November 2019. Similar to a community garden where each person has a plot of land, CEF sells solar garden subscriptions to residents and businesses. Subscribers receive credits on their electric bills for the electricity produced by their portion of the solar garden’s production. The program provides a way for people to access renewable energy that is not directly connected to their electric meter.
The solar garden uses 3,760 panels to generate electricity from sunlight. It is expected to produce 1.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. No parking spaces were lost during construction. This is the first solar project in MnDOT’s right of way. The agency will also be a backup subscriber and receive bill credits for at least 20 percent of the subscriptions’ solar array production.
“MnDOT is always looking for new and innovative ways to be efficient with our agency’s resources and improve the environment,” said Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “Creating a community solar garden not only reduces carbon emissions, it also supports our economy by reducing the energy costs of homeowners, businesses and our agency.”
Eighty percent of the subscriptions will be sold to residential households, primarily in Minneapolis, including low- to moderate-income residents and those in affordable housing.
MnDOT owns the ABC Ramps. The ramps include three parking and multimodal transportation facilities over Interstate 394 in downtown Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis manages the ramps.