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North HS Community Solar Garden
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North High School Community Solar Garden

North High School Community Solar Garden
Ariel view of North HS community solar project


The North High School Community Solar Garden is scheduled to undergo a construction as outlined below. To receive periodic updates on project milestones and other news please sign up to receive e-alerts. 

School Location: 1500 James Ave. North Minneapolis, MN 55411

Scope of Work:

Renewable Energy Partners, Inc. (REP), a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) based in North Minneapolis, was selected through a competitive proposal process by the City of Minneapolis to develop a community solar garden that benefits low-income households.  MPS signed a letter of intent with REP in 2018 to lease roof space at North High School for that solar garden project. REP has commenced construction. REP’s founder, Jamez Staples, the project’s structural engineer and several other crew members are graduates of North High.

The solar array will include 914, 400-watt panels for a total solar capacity of 365,600 watts-dc that will be interconnected through the building’s electrical service.  Solar panels will be installed on the west half of the North High roof.  Together with the existing solar array on North, more than 400,000 watts of solar will be installed at North, the second most solar on an MPS building after the 486,000 watts installed at Edison High School last year.
Under the terms of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community program, Xcel will purchase all of the generated energy and provide bill credits to subscribers of the solar garden.  MPS will be offered 10-20% of the subscriptions and the City of Minneapolis will also subscribe to 10-20% of the subscriptions and will serve as a “back-up” subscriber if needed.

The balance of the subscriptions will be offered to households in North Minneapolis that have household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, including both homeowners and renters.  REP is working with Minneapolis Climate Action (MCA), a local non-profit, to manage the residential subscriptions and their plan is to first offer subscriptions to the families of North High students.  If both MPS and the City subscribe to 10% of the solar garden capacity (36.5 kilowatts each or about 49,000 kilowatt-hours per year), there will be 293 kilowatts available to local households. MCA will offer up to 4 kilowatts of subscription to each family, which means 70-75 families will be able to participate.  MCA and REP will also work with North staff to raise awareness with students and faculty of clean energy career and educational opportunities and will support the integration of the solar array as a teaching tool for STEM learning.

There is no cost to subscribers, including MPS and the City, to become a subscriber.  Subscribers will pay back some of their bill credits from Xcel energy to the project developers but will retain a portion of the bill credits as their net savings.  Most residential subscribers will save about $10 a month on their electric bills, and that amount will increase over time as the bill credits increase at a rate of 2.25% per year.

REP is partnering on financing for the project with US Bank through its Community Development banking unit.  Construction and interconnection of the system will be done by REP and its partners, including other MBEs and will employ local residents newly-trained as solar installers by REP at its training center on Plymouth Avenue.  REP is also working with MPS on a proposal for a community solar microgrid project (solar-plus battery storage) that would include up to 1.6 megawatts of solar arrays on the roofs of Hall Elementary, Franklin Middle School and the Nutrition Center.

REP will be taking photos and drone video of the project during construction and will share the photos and videos as well as progress reports with MPS.  Based on the current schedule, the solar array should be complete by the end of 2020, and fully interconnected and ready to generate electricity by March 2021.

Project Updates:

December 15, 2020:  Solar array continues to be worked on.

Project Schedule (subject to change):

Design: 2018
Pre-Construction: Spring 2020
Construction: Spring-Winter 2020
Substantial Completion: Winter 2020
Final Completion: March 2021
General Contractor: Renewable Energy Partners, Inc. (REP)