Minnesota's first solar community project launched

Posted on August 15, 2012

Wright-Hennepin solar community and Clean Energy Collective partner to provide community solar to Minnesota residents

 Rockford, Minn. (August 15, 2012) – Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH), Rockford, Minn. and the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), Carbondale, Colo., have entered into an agreement to launch Minnesota's first solar community. The WH Solar Community project will allow utility customers to purchase solar panels located in a community array. The first phase will be a 40 kW pilot project, which will be located at WH’s headquarters in Rockford, Minn.

WH is committed to providing its members with simple and affordable opportunities to utilize solar energy. Through the WH Solar Community program, members can buy and use solar panels without the hassle of maintaining the panels themselves. CEC will administer the program with the goal of making generating solar energy an easy and affordable experience for WH’s members. WH also has a residential sized solar panel, wind turbine and storage battery set up at its headquarters in Rockford, with the goal of educating members about electrical output from renewable energy sources. Members may view the energy produced online or visit the facility any time.

CEC pioneered this solar community model for clean energy production, which allows community members to purchase solar panels located in centralized communities to offset their electricity use. CEC constructs and maintains the solar communities, and a local utility company agrees to acquire the power from the arrays. Consumers receive the same tax credits and electricity discounts as they would if the panels were installed on their own roofs. CEC warranties the panels for 50 years, so consumers don't have to worry about construction, maintenance or repair.

The solar community concept allows all consumers to utilize clean, renewable energy, including renters, those with poorly sited properties and individuals of all income levels, without having to build a costly system of their own. Owners of solar community panels reap the benefits directly on their monthly electric bills through WH.

“I am excited to announce that Wright-Hennepin has a solution for our members who are interested in owning a solar system, but for various reasons are not able to install a system at their existing homes,” said Mark Vogt, president and CEO of WH. “Members may buy one panel, or enough to power their entire homes.”

“Wright-Hennepin is an ideal partner for community solar, and we look forward to offering all of their members the opportunity to benefit from community solar ownership,” said Paul Spencer, CEC founder and president.

Construction will begin once the initial 40 kW array has been reserved by members. WH members may purchase panels for $869 and will receive monthly bill credits for the power produced by their panels. Reservations are being taken now.


WH is a member-owned non-profit electric utility that provides electric power to Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County. The cooperative has been a corporate citizen in this area since 1937 and currently serves more than 46,000 electric accounts. The utility started its security division in 1989 that provides local home security solutions as well as monitors alarm systems for more than 50,000 customers in 32 states and three Canadian provinces.


Colorado-based CEC is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a national leader in community power generation. CEC has pioneered the model of delivering clean power generation through large-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. The CEC’s proprietary Remote Meter® system automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems, enabling all utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited directly on their monthly utility bills, without modifying their home or offices.

CEC has community solar partnerships with many other utilities and is working on dozens of other community solar projects nationally and internationally.