St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf supports new solar energy initiative

solar panel_smSt. Olaf College President David R. Anderson ’74 recently announced that the college plans to lease 90 acres of land for the development of a new solar installation and will be one of the first and largest subscribers to the project.

Geronimo Energy, based in Edina, Minnesota, has proposed a plan to develop 15 one-megawatt Community Solar Gardens on college-owned land. Altogether, these solar panel arrays are expected to produce 26.2 million kilowatt hours per year and result in a carbon offset of approximately 12,500 metric tons.

St. Olaf has subscribed to 40 percent of the project’s output, the maximum allowable by state law. As a subscriber, St. Olaf will receive utility bill credits under Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden program.

St. Olaf’s involvement in this Geronimo project, along with an earlier 10 percent subscription to another Geronimo project and the energy drawn from the college’s own 1.65-megawatt wind turbine, will enable the college to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electrical power.

“Through these efforts, St. Olaf can become carbon neutral in our electrical energy usage by late 2015 or early 2016, and our leadership among liberal arts colleges in sustainability practices will take another step forward,” Anderson says.

Geronimo Energy is a utility-scale wind and solar energy developer. The company has three fully subscribed large community solar projects already in the works and recently won a bid to create additional capacity for Xcel Energy.

Read more about the college’s sustainability initiatives.