Public Tour of Community Solar Gardens in Minnesota Expected to Draw Large Crowds Interested in Renewable Energy


by CERTs
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lake Region Electric Cooperative & Local Energy Group Host Tour & Discussion

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LREC community solar garden being instaled Pelican Rapids, MN – Have you heard about Community Solar Gardens popping up across Minnesota? Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers. They are of growing interest to residents and businesses that can’t install solar themselves or want an easy way to go green and save green (dollars, that is).

Members of the public, local community leaders, utilities, businesses, congregations, and schools are invited to join a discussion and tour of a local community solar installation Thursday, July 9th 1:00 – 3:30pm at Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) in Pelican Rapids hosted by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs).

Attendees will see a completed Community Solar Garden and another that is under construction. Participants will learn what Community Solar Gardens are and how they work. They will also hear from utilities in northern and central Minnesota about their efforts on community solar. There will be time for Q&A and networking, so attendees are encouraged to bring their questions along.

“This is a dynamic time for utilities and their customers as solar energy becomes more affordable,” says Sarah Hayden Shaw, Central CERT Regional Coordinator. “There are a lot of great stories out there—what kind of Community Solar Gardens the utilities are setting up, how and why their members are participating—and we want to share those stories in Pelican Rapids July 9th.”

To register for this free event visit or call (612) 626-0555.

Why are people so interested in Community Solar Gardens?

Jim Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the Pelican Rapids Area Economic Development Corporation. Recently, he and his wife, Carol, decided to invest in the Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s solar garden because of their green values and their appreciation for home-grown energy projects. “My friends have heard me say that solar energy is the coming thing, and it’s here now, in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota,” shared Jim Johnson. “It is the greenest, most environmentally-positive energy source we have and likely will be for a long time. The economics and technology of solar energy are getting better every day and I believe will continue to do so.”

Gary and Betty Dagen are both retired and live in Barnesville, MN. Based on their desire to reduce their environmental impact, they bought as much solar from the Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) as the community solar program would allow. “We decided to lower our carbon footprint and solar panels at our home in the woods were not feasible,” Betty Dagen told CERTs. “We decided to purchase as much as LREC would allow. This was dependent on our usage, which is quite low.”

The Dagens and Johnsons are not alone. The level of interest in Community Solar Gardens is leading LREC to build a second project, and several other utilities in Minnesota have already installed projects, too: Beltrami Electric Cooperative, Connexus Energy, Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Services, Kandiyohi Power Coop, Lake Region Electric Cooperative, McLeod Cooperative Power, Moorhead Public Service, Runestone Electric Association, Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric, Stearns Electric Association, Tri-County Electric Cooperative, and Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric. These are mapped below.

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  • 1:00 – Welcome & Introductions
  • 1:05 – Overview from Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC)
  • 1:15 – Walking Tour of LREC’s Community Solar Gardens (one completed, one under construction)
  • 2:00 – Community Solar Gardens: What are they and how do they work, what’s the latest going on in northern and central Minnesota?
  • 2:20 – Q&A
  • 2:30 – Utility Panel: How Community Solar Gardens are working in northern and central MN: Minnesota Power – Paul Helstrom; Moorhead Public Service – Dennis Eisenbraun; Beltrami Electric Cooperative – Sam Mason
  • 3:00 – Q&A
  • 3:30 – Adjourn


To register for this free event visit or call (612) 626-0555.


  • Who: Community leaders and members, local governments, utilities, businesses, faith communities, schools, and anyone curious about Community Solar Gardens
  • What: Free tour and discussion on Community Solar Gardens in northern and central Minnesota
  • When: Thursday, July 9, 2015 1:00pm – 3:30pm
  • Where: Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC), 1401 South Broadway, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572
  • How: Register for this free event at or call (612) 626-0555
  • Why: To learn about community solar in northern and central MN and how you can do it, too

Additional Resources:

About the Hosts

About CERTs: The Clean Energy Resource Teams—or CERTs—are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. Northwest, Central, West Central, Southwest CERTs empower communities and their members to adopt energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies and practices for their homes, businesses, and local institutions. CERTs is a partnership of the University of Minnesota’s Extension & Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Great Plains Institute, Southwest Regional Development Commission, and Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Learn more at

About LREC: Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) is located in Pelican Rapids in the heart of Minnesota lake country, and now has options for members that want to power their lives with community solar. LREC owns and maintains 5,600 miles of line. Learn more at

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    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission