Minnesota Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Minnesota National Guard to construct a 10MW utility-scale solar plant at Camp Ripley, located near Little Falls, US.
Under the terms of the agreement, the company and the Minnesota National Guard will build a solar plant comprising photovoltaic panels on racks, on nearly 100 acres of underutilised government property at the facility.
The MoU outlines how the company will install either diesel or natural gas reciprocating engines at the camp, which will provide capacity and peaking energy to the company during infrequent periods when the electric grid is down. They will also provide emergency generation to Camp Ripley.
Claimed to be the largest solar energy installation on military property in Minnesota, the plant will enable Camp Ripley to reduce its energy usage by 30% and install backup generation for energy security.
Minnesota National Guard major general Richard Nash said the Guard and Camp Ripley have looked for ways to increase their environmental stewardship.
Minnesota Power Strategy and Planning vice-president Al Rudeck said: "Completion of the Camp Ripley solar project will help Minnesota Power achieve about one-third of its requirement under the state's new solar mandate.
"At the same time, the project will help the Minnesota National Guard meet energy conservation objectives outlined by the Department of Defense.
"And Camp Ripley would achieve an energy security priority by gaining the ability to function completely independent of the electric grid in emergency situations."
During non-emergency operations, the solar energy generated by the plant will flow into the company's electric service territory, which encompasses 26,000 square miles in central and northern Minnesota.
The project is expected to cost $25m and could be completed in 2015-2016. It will create employment and new business in the state.
As part of the agreement, the signatories will also work together to identify and complete programmes that will help Camp Ripley address its energy savings goal of 30%, beginning with a 2003 baseline.
Image: The new solar plant will cover nearly 100 acres of underutilised government property at Camp Ripley in Minnesota, US. Photo: courtesy of Techwriting.