One of the largest solar energy initiatives in Minnesota, the Aurora project, has been completed, its owner said Tuesday.
The Aurora project features 16 separate solar power plants in Minnesota that together will provide electricity to Xcel Energy under a long-term contract. Aurora, which cost $290 million, is owned by Enel Green Power North America and can produce 100 megawatts of power, enough for more than 17,000 homes. A megawatt is 1 million watts.
Only one other solar project in Minnesota is in the same league size-wise: North Star, a 100-megawatt power plant in Chisago County, which is owned by D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments and also supplies power to Minneapolis-based Xcel. The $180 million North Star project is located on a single 1,000-acre site.
Enel is a subsidiary of Italy's Enel Green PowerSpA, and Aurora is the largest of the company's three solar projects in North America.
"The completion of Aurora is another major milestone in our continued strong growth in the U.S.," Rafael Gonzalez, head of Enel Green Power North America, said in a media statement.
Enel also owns and operates two wind farms in Minnesota, including a 200-megawatt project in the southwestern corner of the state.
Minnesota is a national leader in wind energy production, though its solar power output is much smaller. Still, with Aurora, North Star and other projects coming online since late last year, the state's solar energy output has topped 430 megawatts — a tenfold increase since the end of 2016's third quarter.