It is by far the largest solar project approved in Minnesota, and in one sweep increases the state’s solar output sevenfold. The combined 100 million watts is the equivalent of a small traditional power plant. The largest of the 21 solar sites, near Paynesville, will cover an area the size of Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.
Geronimo’s Aurora project was chosen after beating out a competing natural gas project head to head. Geronimo was able to provide maximum value to the grid in part by using solar panels that track the sun as it moves across the sky each day. This provides a greater amount of energy during peak demand hours, when energy is needed most.
As significant as this project is, it’s only the first of several large solar arrays set to be installed over the next few years, thanks to the 2013 solar energy standard that requires investor-owned utilities to provide 1.5 percent of their energy. In total, Aurora will occupy 1,200 acres of land, compared to Minnesota’s 27 million acres of farmland or 54 million acres overall.
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