Solar energy comes to Hinckley

January 3, 2018

Coming early in 2018, solar panels will be installed at Firehouse Liquor Store and the wastewater treatment plant in Hinckley. The city partnered with iDeal Energies, which boasts on its website to be “the premier Minneapolis-based commercial solar energy developer and installer.”


Jillian O’Brien, communications manager of iDeal Energies, said the company started “working with the city and Minnesota Power for a PV Solar Rooftop array system just a little over a year ago.” Photovoltaic systems, she said, have increasingly become more affordable in recent years. Solar technology and panels are a “cost effective, clean and viable source of energy in today’s market,” with a cost that’s dropped 58 percent globally over the last five years.


Minnesota’s current renewable energy standard is set for 25 percent of Minnesota’s electricity to be produced from renewable resources by 2015. Recent legislative efforts would boost the current renewable energy standard to 50 percent by 2030. According to a Star Tribune article from February 2017, more than 21 percent of electric power comes from renewable resources. Renewable energy, as defined by the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes, is electricity generated by wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, trees or other vegetation, landfill gas or organic components from publicly owned treatment works.


Across the state, iDeal has installed some 200-plus PV solar rooftop array systems, and another 100-plus are in construction in Minnesota, O’Brien said. Solar projects are being done in Duluth in partnership with Schneiderman’s Furniture and Lakes Region Storage. The company has also worked projects for the cities of Rogers and Mendota Heights. In the upcoming year, they will be installing panels in 10-plus cities.


The project, O’Brien said, was financed by rebate money from the Solar Sense program iDeal’s power purchase agreement model. “Solar Sense is a production-based incentive program that awards money based on system energy production,” she said.


City administrator Kyle Morell said the city “worked with iDeal Energies and Minnesota Power to secure SolarSense rebate funds to install a 20 kwh solar system at each location.” After the city hosted a regional solar workshop in late 2016, Hinckley began working with Minnesota Power and a company called Fire Cat Solar. Firehouse Liquors should see their rooftop solar panel mounts in the early upcoming months. “From there, iDeal Energies, who also works with Minnesota Power, reached out to us,” Morell said.


Installation at the wastewater treatment plant will likely occur in the spring, as the panels will go on the ground rather than the roof. At this time, Morell added, the city does not have any plans to investigate further use of renewable energy systems.

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