Largest MN city solar project begins in Brooklyn Park

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Brooklyn Park’s ambitious solar energy plan is underway. The city is installing panels in selected buildings, making it the largest solar project ever conducted by a Minnesota city.

“Our solar journey has been over a year in the making,” said Dan Ruiz, Brooklyn Park’s director of operations and maintenance. “Multiple meetings with the council. Public meetings for our residents to see what we’re looking at. It culminated just this fall.”

Cedar Creek Energy is installing the solar panels, which are designed to work in any kind of weather conditions.

“Think of a solar powered calculator, Ruiz said. “They still work in your household. They get some ambient solar light. Same thing with this. They are generating power even on cloudy days just at the right peak power on a nice bright sunny day.”

There is no upfront cost for the city. A Minnesota Department of Commerce grant made helped fund the solar installation, which is expected to save Brooklyn Park a minimum of $60,000 in energy costs after one full year of production.

“The grant money goes right towards the capital cost of the solar facilities and we get a nominal reduction in our solar costs,” Ruiz said.

The first building with solar panels is Brooklyn Park’s main fire station. There are 124 panels on the roof that will be used to power 80 percent of the building. Ruiz said he expects the city to save $1,000 in electrical costs at the fire station over a one-year period.

The other locations in Brooklyn Park getting solar panels are the main police station, Community Activity Center, water treatment plant and three buildings at the Operations and Maintenance facility.

Eric Nelson, reporting

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