Gov. Tim Walz and other state and local officials on Monday marked the completion of 6,000 solar panels at Brooklyn Park facilities, making the north metro city home to the largest municipal solar installation in Minnesota.
The panels are located on the rooftops of three public works buildings and the fire and police station, as well as on the ground at the community center and the water treatment plant.
Together they can generate 1.8 megawatts of electricity per year, enough to power about 200 households.
Between the panels and the city’s agreements with several solar gardens through Xcel Energy, city facilities — buildings, streetlights and sewer lift stations — will be completely run on sustainable energy.
While many other communities across Minnesota have added solar panels to their municipal property, Brooklyn Park’s effort represents the largest such installation in the state.
At a news conference unveiling the project, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, called the city an example “of how our communities can take advantage of Minnesota’s growing clean-energy economy to both save money and help reduce carbon pollution.”
Said Walz: “I commend the city of Brooklyn Park for its leadership and vision. The future of Minnesota’s environment and economy relies on clean energy.”
A Minnesota solar grant, federal tax credits and a third-party investor called Standard Solar paid for the nearly $2.6 million solar panel installation.
In partnership with Standard Solar, the city worked with Apex Efficiency Solutions to install the panels.
The project began in 2015 when community engagement efforts helped outline goals for Brooklyn Park.
It will save taxpayers $60,000 in electricity costs in 2020 and more than $5.5 million over 25 years, said Dan Ruiz, the city’s director of operations and maintenance.
“It was the first time one of our community strategic goals addressed sustainability,” Ruiz said.
Knowing that residents prioritized sustainability efforts to benefit the community gave city leaders the direction needed to move forward with the solar project, Ruiz said.
He added that residents have been supportive of the project and are excited for what it means for the future.
“Some of them are asking why we waited so long to do this or how they can get panels on their own homes,” he said. “We do hope this generates more momentum for other projects.”