Cologne, Minnesota, is a town of about 1,500 near Minneapolis. It recently decided to power all of its facilities with renewable electricity from solar power — in fact, community solar. 2,700 solar panels in SunShare solar gardens will provide the electricity. They are being constructed under Excel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community program. The point of investing in solar power is to disconnect the city’s facilities from fossil fuels and their fluctuating prices.
“This decision creates a win-win for our community members and the City. By joining SunShare’s Solar project, the City is both doing the right thing environmentally and cutting down on our electricity costs, our taxpayer dollars can more efficiently be used for additional projects and infrastructure. Whatever we save can be put back toward the community,” explained City Administrator Jesse Dickson.
The facilities of a town with 1,500 residents might not sound like much, but there are hundreds of such towns in the state that could follow suit. With one setting an example of success, it might not take that long for others to go entirely solar, too. Such an example may also inspire residents to go solar. Some research has concluded that peer influence plays an important role when people are deciding to invest in energy conservation.
“The City of Cologne has set an example for communities across Minnesota that renewable energy is a serious priority for cities. Leadership from the City of Cologne and the hundreds of citizens choosing Community Solar will drive greater adoption of renewable energy in communities in Minnesota and across the nation,” said Ken Bradley, an executive at SunShare.
Community solar seems to have an advantage in terms of visibility. It isn’t one system on a homeowner’s rooftop: it is a very large number of panels that are likely to get much more attention. Also, it is a shared resource and so is more of a collective conversation piece.
Manitou Springs, Colorado, signed an agreement with SunShare in 2014 to power all of its city facilities with solar power.
Image Credit: Sunshare
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