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Solar panel project is in the works in Farmington

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News Farmington,Minnesota 55024 http://www.farmingtonindependent.com/sites/all/themes/farmingtonindependent_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Solar panel project is in the works in Farmington
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The corner of Denmark Avenue and CR. 50 will soon look much different. 

Great River Energy, which provides energy for Dakota Electric Association, is planning to build a 60-panel solar energy system on the southeast corner of Denmark and CR 50. The location was formerly used for a DEA substation, but has not been utilized since the substation was removed in 2006.

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The project came before the Farmington Planning Commission at its April 8 meeting. It received unanimous support.

“It’s a really neat use of space that doesn’t look like it could be used for anything else,” commissioner Lydia Bjorge said.

According to the plans, the 60 panels will be laid out in six rows of 10 panels each. Each row will be constructed in a triangle shape. The rows will reach six feet in height.

Initially, Farmington planning manager Tony Wippler said, city staff questioned whether the panels would cause a glare for motorists at the intersection. However, the panels will face south, away from the intersection, so city staff is satisfied there will not be a glare from the project.

The rows will also be pushed back far enough on the property that they will not impede sightlines at the intersection, Wippler said.

Solar energy

Farmington’s is the first of 20, 20kv solar ray installation projects Great River Energy is building as part of its new solar energy program. A 250kv solar facility is being constructed at GRE’s home office in Maple Grove, and the other 19 sites will be constructed after completion of Farmington’s site.

Once the full system is constructed, Farmington’s site will be tied into Great River Energy’s full solar energy system, Dakota Electric Association communication director Joe Miller said.

“DEA will get the energy that’s produced by the solar panels,” Miller said. “We see this installation as an opportunity for us to learn more about solar.”

Construction of the panels should be completed by July, Miller said. The project is being built by a Minnesota company, 10K Solar, and much of the materials are produced in the area.

Chances are, once it’s constructed, the solar energy site will be part of Farmington for many years to come. The site is in city right-of-way, Wippler said, which means the city has the right to acquire the land if Denmark Avenue is ever widened, but Wippler does not see that happening in the foreseeable future.

The project agreement can also be terminated if or when the technology is no longer viable. But that, too, would be years from now.

“My guess is the road would go in before the technology goes defunct,” Wippler said.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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