The Green Line is getting greener.
IPS Solar, the solar developer, on Tuesday threw the ceremonial switch on a new installation that sits atop four commercial rooftops along a quarter mile of Green Line LRT route on St. Paul's University Avenue.
Eric Pasi, chief development officer of fast-growing IPS, said the 1 megawatt installation includes 2,500 solar panels and will generate enough juice to power the equivalent of 140 homes at peak capacity.
The Green Line in St. Paul has been dubbed the "energy innovation corridor" and is intended to be a practical showcase of green-energy and energy-conservation projects.
"The area we targeted for this pilot project is rich with potential sites for clean power and other energy-saving projects," Pasi said. ''[It] lowers the strain on the electric grid… and helps to reduce the need for future distribution lines and to make the grid more robust."
The buildings with new solar rooftop arrays are along the western end of University Avenue in St. Paul: Court International, University Enterprise Labs, University Centre and 1000 University.
Pasi said IPS increasingly hears from commercial real estate owners who want their roofs considered for solar installations to generate revenue and buzz about clean energy.
He said solar power in Minnesota has grown from about 8 megawatts only five years ago to about 400 megawatts today, as the combination of growing production and federal energy credits has driven down cost dramatically.
The trend has been good for Roseville-based IPS, a Minnesota pioneer in solar that was started in 1991. Employment has doubled to 40 as revenue has shot from $10 million to $40 million since 2014.
IPS Solar provides development, financing, installation and management of solar power systems for commercial, community solar and residential customers.