Minnesota Power officially dedicated its solar project at Camp Ripley, the largest solar array on any National Guard base in the nation.

Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of Duluth-based Allete Inc., built the 10-megawatt solar plant after signing an agreement in 2014 with the National Guard to increase renewable energy production,  as well as  to decrease the base’s power usage and beef up its energy security.

While the solar array produces power for all Minnesota Power customers, it’s designed to allow Camp Ripley to use solar energy if a disruption in normal service occurs.

The $25 million project at Camp Ripley, which is near Little Falls, covers 63 acres and generates enough electricity to power nearly 2,000 homes a year. It started operating in November, and is Minnesota Power’s first significant solar project.

The new solar array helps the utility meet about one-third of its requirement under Minnesota’s solar energy standard, which was enacted in 2013. It requires that 1.5 percent of a public utility’s retail sales come from solar sources by 2020.

-- MIKE HUGHLETT

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