Cologne will be the first MN city to go 100 percent solar

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A suburb of the Twin Cities is set to become the first local government to go all solar.

Cologne, a city of about 1,500 located in Carver County, inked a deal with SunShare Thursday morning to power up to 100 percent of its city facilities' energy needs from solar power, a SunShare news release says.

The city will get the energy from over 2,700 solar panels at SunShare's community solar gardens, which are under development through Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program, the release notes.

“This decision creates a win-win for our community members and the city,” City Administrator Jesse Dickson said in the release. “By joining SunShare’s Solar project, the city is both doing the right thing environmentally and cutting down on our electricity costs, our taxpayer dollars can more efficiently be used for additional projects and infrastructure. Whatever we save can be put back toward the community.”

This deal is expected to save the city of Cologne $1.1 million over the next 25 years, the Star Tribune says.

Cologne is the first – but isn't expected to be the last – Minnesota city to turn to community solar gardens to power municipal facilities through Xcel's Solar Rewards Community program.

Xcel's program allows customers to subscribe to community solar gardens to get their energy, Midwest Energy News said. The output from these solar gardens is sold to Xcel Energy, offsetting all or part of the customer's monthly utility bill. For more on how community solar gardens work, click here.

Businesses and residents in the city won't get a share of the solar power, but they do have the option to sign up for solar gardens individually, the Star Tribune notes.

SunShare hopes to complete its community solar garden project by the end of 2016, the newspaper adds.

SunShare is among several companies seeking to build community solar gardens in Minnesota through Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program.

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