By James Walsh, Star Tribune
Thanks to 31 solar panels mounted on his house and garage, and a bank of batteries to store the power they generate, there are times when Jukka Kukkonen’s Highland Park home produces more energy than it needs.
“Some days, Xcel doesn’t even know my house exists,” said Kukkonen, a consultant who works to promote electric vehicles.
It could be much the same at the former Ford site. Officials this week announced plans to build a 6-acre solar array as part of the redevelopment project. Combined with electricity generated by a nearby hydroelectric plant, the Ford site will not only produce enough renewable energy to power the homes and buildings on its 122 acres, but thousands of other homes and businesses throughout the area as well.
Xcel Energy officials say the new solar array and the hydroelectric plant will have the capacity to produce nearly 20 megawatts of power — 1 megawatt from solar, 18 from the dam. The new array is expected to be the largest solar field constructed in St. Paul or Minneapolis.