Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard have announced a partnership to build what may be the biggest single-site solar installation in the state.
The utility will install photovoltaic panels on racks on 100 acres of Camp Ripley, the Guard's base in central Minnesota.
The $25 million project is expected to provide up to 10 megawatts of power capable of powering 2,000 homes and is projected to help the company comply with the state's mandate to provide 1.5 percent of its power by solar energy by 2020.
The Camp Ripley project would represent about a third of Minnesota Power's mandated solar capacity, Minnesota Power President Al Rudeck said in a statement.
Minnesota Power officials said it will be the largest single solar array in Minnesota. They hope to have the project up and running within two years.
"Energy is of a great concern to our country, both in terms of our economics and at a strategic level," said Maj. John Donovan, public affairs officer for Camp Ripley. "Renewable resources makes us energy independent."
The National Guard is trying to reduce its energy consumption by 30 percent, and the solar array could supply more electricity than the base uses under normal conditions.
The installation also includes backup generators run by diesel fuel or natural gas. They may provide peaking capacity for Minnesota Power and may allow the 53,000 acre training camp to operate without a connection to the conventional energy grid if necessary.
Duluth-based Minnesota Power serves 143,000 customers across 26,000 square miles of northeastern Minnesota.