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Solar panel project in the works in Farmington

FARMINGTON — A Farmington intersection may soon look different if a proposed project is approved next week by the City Council. 

Great River Energy, which provides energy for Dakota Electric Association, is proposing to build a 60-panel solar energy system on the southeast corner of Denmark Avenue and County Road 50. The location was formerly used for a DEA substation but has not been used since the substation was removed in 2006.

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The project received unanimous support from the Farmington Planning Commission on April 8 and was forwarded to the City Council for its meeting on Monday.

“It’s a really neat use of space that doesn’t look like it could be used for anything else,” Commissioner Lydia Bjorge said.

According to the plans, the 60 panels will be laid out in six rows of 10 panels each. Each row will be constructed in a triangle shape. The rows will reach 6 feet in height.

Farmington planning manager Tony Wippler said that initially, city staff questioned whether the panels would cause a glare for motorists at the intersection. However, the panels will face south, away from the intersection, so city staff is satisfied there will not be a glare.

The rows also will be pushed back far enough on the property that they won’t impede sight lines at the intersection, Wippler said.

The Farmington project is the first of 20, 20-kilovolt solar ray installation projects Great River Energy is building as part of its new solar energy program. A 250kv solar facility is being constructed at GRE’s home office in Maple Grove, and the other 19 sites will be constructed after completion of Farmington’s site.

Once the full system is constructed, Farmington’s site will be tied into Great River Energy’s full solar energy system, Dakota Electric Association communication director Joe Miller said.

“DEA will get the energy that’s produced by the solar panels,” Miller said. “We see this installation as an opportunity for us to learn more about solar.”

Construction of the panels should be completed by July, Miller said. The project is being built by a Minnesota company, 10K Solar, and much of the materials are produced in the area.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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