Dakota Electric Association members will soon receive electricity from a new 1-megawatt solar facility built specifically for the cooperative’s member-owners. Dakota Electric’s board of directors, along with Great River Energy and SoCore Energy personnel, held a dedication Thursday, Aug. 31, at the joint solar facility in Marshan Township.

The board of directors cut the ribbon on the new 1 megawatt solar facility.

The board of directors cut the ribbon on the new 1 megawatt solar facility.

The 5-acre solar site is expected to have a 25-year life and will produce enough electricity to power about 150 average homes. The 3,906 panels, all visible from Highway 316, will produce more than 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of power annually.

SoCore Energy built and owns the solar facility on behalf of Great River Energy. Through a power purchase contract with Great River Energy, Dakota Electric purchases all the solar output for delivery to its member-owners.

“We are pleased to provide this renewable energy resource to our members,” Dakota Electric’s CEO Greg Miller said. “This project will add to our existing wholesale renewable portfolio that includes wind, solar, hydro and refuse-derived fuel resources.”

SoCore Energy personnel provided a tour at the solar facility.

SoCore Energy personnel provided a tour at the solar facility.

An added benefit is that the grounds around the solar panels will be planted with pollinator-friendly plants, so it will provide habitat that is helpful to bees and other pollinators.

“Dakota Electric is a leader among cooperatives at pursuing solar electricity,” said Rick Lancaster, vice president and chief generation officer at Great River Energy. “And, they are doing it for the right reasons: because their members want it.”

“This system will reduce the amount of electricity Dakota Electric will need to purchase that is generated from non-renewable sources,” said Dakota Electric Board Chair Jim Sheldon as he welcomed guests.

Dedication attendees viewing the solar panels.

Dedication attendees viewing the solar panels.

“This project represents a start for Dakota Electric in diversifying into utility-scale solar power,” Miller said. “Our board and staff are committed to this so watch for announcements on more projects to come.”

After a ribbon-cutting event, attendees received a tour of the solar site and learned about the process of producing electricity from the sun.