Electric utility Minnesota Power has inaugurated its 15.2 MW Sylvan Solar Project, which is one of the parent company ALLETE’s three solar projects worth $40 million and totaling more than 20 MW.
The other two projects include a 5.6 MW solar array near the company's Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes and a 1.6 MW facility in Duluth. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved projects utilized more than 60,000 solar panels made at Heliene's manufacturing facility in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.
The Sylvan project expected to deliver about 29,000 MWh of electricity each year, enough energy to power about 3,400 homes, created 33 local, union construction jobs.
White Earth Tribal and Community College and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance partnered to provide a solar training certificate program to White Earth students.
“From conception through procurement, construction and completion, you have done exactly what we set out to do—support the regional economy and generate more local renewable energy," said Josh Skelton, Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer. "This investment in clean energy supports local jobs, local education, local manufacturing and local communities as we strive to create a just and equitable transition to a carbon-free future with opportunities for all."
Minnesota Power’s investment in the three solar projects is part of its EnergyForward vision to achieve a 100% carbon-free energy supply. Currently, the company's energy portfolio has about 30 MW of solar energy, under the strategy.
The company also has a community solar garden with a 40 KW array in Duluth and purchases power from a 1 MW array in Wrenshall.
“Today is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the clean-energy transition in action,” said Minnesota Power Vice President of Strategy and Planning, Julie Pierce. “The local investments benefit the communities surrounding the projects, and the carbon-free electricity will be felt far and wide for all of our customers. This project shows that through thoughtful planning and collaboration, and by working together, we can help build a carbon-free future right here in northern Minnesota.”
The company's contracts with local suppliers and contractors for the three projects totaled $36 million, including women-owned businesses of nearly $80,000; veteran-owned businesses totaling $9,000; and companies employing disabled people worth more than $75,000.