Solar Panels Coming Online

Solar Panels at Dodge Middle School Come Online This Week!
Posted on 11/07/2017
Dodge Middle School, 4200 208th St W, Farmington, MN  55024

Farmington Area Public Schools, District 192, has made a commitment to Minnesota’s clean energy future by installing a solar electric system at Dodge Middle School. The solar facility was designed and installed by Sundial Solar Energy, a Minneapolis-based solar energy developer.

“Our District is committed to holding down long-term energy costs while also reducing the environmental footprint of our operations,” said Superintendent Jay Haugen. “This investment in solar energy reflects our District values and we believe it also reflects the values of our community.”

The solar facility at Dodge Middle School is comprised of 2,200 solar modules installed on the roof of the building.   The system has a capacity of 715 kilowatts, generating over 850,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy in the first year, with a total of over 20 million kilowatt-hours over the next 25 years. 

The energy provided by the solar arrays on Dodge Middle School will annually reduce emissions by an estimated 834 tons of carbon, which is the equivalent of taking 179 gasoline-powered cars off the road, or planting 21,271 trees.  Solar energy will now provide approximately 60% of the total electrical use at the school.

The costs to install solar energy have gone down dramatically in the last 5 years. Although it does not pay taxes, Farmington Area Public Schools worked with a third-party investor who is able to capture the substantial federal tax benefits.  The investor owns the system for at least seven years, selling the energy to the School District while taking advantage of the tax credits and depreciation. The District then has the option to purchase the arrays after seven years. This approach results in a price for the solar energy that is below the rates charged by the utility. It also locks in a fixed-rate schedule that removes the uncertainty of future rate increases. 

Solar energy continues to grow rapidly in Minnesota and the United States, including job growth in clean energy that is four times the growth in all jobs. By the end of 2017, renewable energy will account for 15 percent of the total electricity generated in the U.S. with solar being the fastest growing sector. More new solar energy capacity has been installed in the U.S. this year than any other type of energy generation.

On Thursday, November 9th, at 9 a.m. Xcel Energy will install the Dodge solar production meter and bi-directional main meter. Xcel will perform what is known as a "witness test"  in conjunction with the meter installation. Once these meters are installed the new solar system will be powering the building and feeding excess electricity in to the grid. District 192 students have already begun to study the solar panels but are excited to see them in full working order. 

Elementary students examine the solar panels.