Solar gardens are growing in popularity around the state, but a new project on the roof of Shiloh Temple International Ministries (1201 W. Broadway) is unique.
What makes this proposed installation of solar panels stand out is its location and who it serves. While most Minnesota solar garden projects are popping up in rural or suburban areas, this project is located in the heart of North Minneapolis. Additionally, a primary demographic of subscribers is low-income residents, often priced out of solar garden community projects.
A growing phenomenon comes to the Northside
Community solar gardens are gaining in popularity because they help to offset energy costs while reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Residents living near sites can choose to purchase a share of the community solar garden. They then receive a direct credit on electricity bills, saving up to a third on energy costs.
In Minneapolis, Xcel Energy rolled out a solar program at the end of last year. Most solar developers who have applied to participate are aiming to serve businesses and institutions. Fewer are projects dedicated to helping residents lower energy costs, with opportunities most lacking in low-income urban areas.
In North Minneapolis, groups involved in the Shiloh Temple project have made serving low-income residents and communities of color a priority. Among the organizations involved are Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, a group that unites faith communities on clean energy projects, and the Sierra Club.
When the Shiloh Solar Community Garden is completed, it will cover the entirety of the church’s roof. The 200-250 kilowatt (kw) project will create enough energy to power between 50 and 60 homes.
Job training part of project
The Shiloh Solar Community Garden is about more than reducing energy costs and clean energy. It’s also about training the next generation of solar workers.
Cooperative Energy Futures, the solar developer on the project, is working with Renewable Energy Partners to train Northside residents in the installations of solar equipment. All told, the project will help to provide training to between 150 and 200 people.
This job training element of the program is seen as critical among community leaders – not only because of the need for additional economic development on the Northside but also because people of color are underrepresented in the solar industry.
Subscribing for clean energy
Northsiders have first opportunity to become subscribers of the Shiloh Temple Community Solar Garden, with Shiloh congregants and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light members getting preference. If all subscriptions are not sold to Northsiders, the opportunity to purchase will be opened up to other Minneapolis residents.
If you are interested in becoming a subscriber visit cooperativeenergyfutures.com/communitysolar/shiloh-faq/ for more info.