This article was written by Kristel Porter
Yes, you read that right! North Community High School is the first school in North Minneapolis to have a Community Solar Garden developed right on top of their roof!
What is a community solar garden? No, it’s not a garden. If I were in charge when this term was coined, I would have called it a “Solar Co-op.” Because that is what it truly is.
Imagine a very large (typically flat) roof with a lot of solar panels on it. Now imagine every day the when sun rises and before it sets, those solar panels create electricity from the sun- are you still with me? Great!
That power is attached to a meter that goes directly into the power grid that we all share. That meter measures the amount of electricity that is created daily and (get this) Xcel Energy pays the owners for the electricity that those solar panels produced because you, my friend, just added power to the grid! Simple as that! Really.
This is where you come in. There are many Minneapolis cooperatives such as food and grocery co-ops like the Wedge, Eastside or Seward. There are other types of co-ops like Fair State Brewery, Housing Co-ops, or even workers co-ops like Hell’s Kitchen, Hard Times Cafe and even Hy-Vee.
I often relate it to a grocery co-op. Every member pays a one-time fee to become an owner, the co-op makes money, pays their bills and expenses, and any revenue left over gets divided among the members in credits that they can spend on more groceries.
The only difference is, with a solar co-op, you can purchase more than one subscription.
One subscription equals 1 kilowatt of electricity. The average single family home uses about 6-7 kilowatts a month and the average apartment uses 3-5 kilowatts.
You can purchase enough subscriptions to cover 100% of what you use and up to 20% more (that’s when you start to see an electric bill balance of $0 and you may even receive a check from Xcel Energy at the end of the year! (Yep, you read that right!)
In order to subscribe to the North High Community Solar Garden, it is a one-time payment of $950 per 1 kilowatt of electricity (and a tiny maintenance fee, which is nice cuz who wants to sweep snow off solar panels in the winter? We do!). In order to be inclusive and to not leave anyone out, there are no credit checks and if you can’t come up with $950 up front you may make payments (no money down). And yes- renters can own too, as long as you have an Xcel Energy bill in your name.
Record highs, record flooding and the increase in severe thunderstorms/weather are directly related to climate change. Climate change is mainly caused by the choices we humans make when we decide where we source our energy, what transportation we choose to take, and what products we choose to buy.
Community Solar is a great choice and a wonderful step in the right direction. The North High Community Solar Garden is filling up fast so make sure you inquire as soon as possible. We have no idea what the next legislative session will bring and we have no idea how long we will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to lower our carbon footprint while collectively owning a portion of the grid together. So, whenever you have a chance to subscribe to Community Solar- do it! Want more info? Go to mplsclimate.org/community-solar.html or firstname.lastname@example.org.