Sun shining, solar power coming in St. Paul

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From the Saints stadium to Ray Pruban’s Energy Challenge homes, St. Paul is getting its solar energy game on in a big way.

The St. Paul Saints just started installing 300 solar energy panels on their new downtown stadium this week. The Saints tout their new field as “the greenest ballpark in America,” with tree trenches and rain gardens and a goal of recycling or composting 90 percent of waste.

Ray Pruban built an energy efficient, solar powered home in the Highwood neighborhood, and lived in it for a couple of years. He built the five-bedroom, four-bath home as a demonstration project for “zero energy.” Now he’s selling that home and moving on, building more. He told the Star Tribune:

“’Because of the solar, this house was designed from the roof down, the opposite of how it’s typically done,’ Pruban said. ‘Everything humanly possible to promote energy efficiency has been done here, but all of it affordably. To get a new home down from a HERS of 70 to a 40 may add 5 percent to its construction costs, which can be recouped and then some over time through lower energy bills.’”

Minnesota’s new solar garden projects will let Xcel Energy’s 1.2 million customers choose to buy solar-generated energy. District Cooling, a subsidiary of downtown St. Paul’s District Energy, will buy half of its energy from the solar gardens.

Xcel objected to the size of some proposed solar garden developments, which it said were “power-plant size” at 1000 megawatts. In June, MPR reported, the Public Utilities Commission agreed that solar garden projects should be “capped at 5 megawatts, or 5 million watts, serving about 715 homes.” According to Investor’s Business Daily, new solar garden projects in the Twin Cities still will be a big deal:

“As much as 100 megawatts of solar will be installed in the Twin Cities, more than all the community solar projects combined to date, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive told IBD.”

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Filed under environment, St. Paul Notes

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