North High School Community Solar Garden
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.
September 2022: The North High School Community Solar Garden was installed in 2022 on the west half of North High School. The solar garden provided solar power for purchase by residents on the north side. The solar garden is getting connected to the grid in the near future to allow residents to purchase solar power generated by the panels. MPS will purchase 30 percent of the power generated with the rest available for purchase. Xcel Energy estimates the connection to the grid to be completed by this fall.
May 2022: Project is currently on track and there are no updates to report at this time.
April 2022: The solar panels have been installed. We are waiting on Xcel energy for a new transformer and to connect into the grid. The project will be impacted by the North High School Renovation, but will be ready for Fall of 2023. We are currently working with the developer and Xcel Energy to determine the location of the new transformer.
December 15, 2020: Solar array continues to be worked on.
Executive Director, Capital Planning, Construction, Maintenance and Operations
Pre-Construction: Spring 2020
Construction: Spring/Winter 2020
Substantial Completion: Winter 2020
Final Completion: Fall 2023
General Contractor: Renewable Energy Partners, Inc. (REP)