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Dakota Electric Association members are now receiving more electricity from the sun through a new 3-megawatt solar facility built specifically for the cooperative’s members. The newest addition to Dakota Electric’s renewable energy portfolio came online in December.

The 15-acre solar site, south of Farmington, is expected to have a 25-year life and will produce enough electricity to power about 600 average homes. The 10,368 panels will produce more than 5 million kilowatt-hours of power annually.

This project, along with three previous projects, means Dakota Electric members will be receiving more than 10 million kWhs from the sun each year. That’s renewable energy that will power more than 1,000 homes.

ENGIE 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 provides renewable energy at fixed costs into the future. The renewable energy becomes a hedge against future wholesale cost increases.”

This renewable energy is in addition to more than 30% renewable energy Great River Energy already provides to Dakota Electric and other Minnesota electric cooperatives.

As an added benefit, the grounds at the solar site are planted with pollinator-friendly plants, so once mature, they will provide habitat that is helpful to bees and other pollinators.