Renewable power developer Ecos Energy said 7,040 solar panels outside of Slayton, Minn., began producing power Friday after being connected to Xcel Energy's distribution system. The solar array is the largest in the state, with 2 megawatts of output, the equivalent of the power used by 250 homes.
The project has 32 rows of solar panels covering an area the size of 7 1/2 football fields on what once was a cornfield.
Solar installations are up dramatically in Minnesota and across the United States. In Minnesota, twice as much solar capacity was installed in 2012 compared with the prior year, as more than 250 projects, large and small, went online, state data shows.That list doesn't include the Slayton project, which came online in 2013. It does include the solar array atop the Bloomington Ikea store completed in August. Ikea briefly held the state record for the biggest solar generator, at 1 megawatt, and now slips to No. 2.
"We expect business to grow considerably in 2013 and 2014," said Doug Fredrickson, vice president of operations for Blattner Energy, which constructed the Slayton project. "The indicators are really strong. The technology is improving, and the price of panels is going down -- you can hardly keep up with the reductions."read more