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North High School transforms into community solar garden

The new project allows more community members with lower incomes to tap into solar power.

MINNEAPOLIS — Nine hundred solar panels are now on the roof of North High School in Minneapolis, creating a community solar garden.

Minneapolis Climate Action leaders say this $500,000 project creates equitable access to renewable energy and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

"To have a solar array coming to North High both as an energy opportunity; a learning opportunity is a special opportunity," said subscriber Whitney Terrill.

I bet you're wondering how this works.

Subscribers can buy shares of energy produced by the solar garden, and Xcel Energy pays them.

Becoming a subscriber is simple.

All you do is sign up online and then choose payment options.

Each one-kilowatt share costs $950. You can buy one kilowatt or more depending on your electric usage. The energy experts will figure out how much you need.  

The best part: you don't have to pay upfront. You can pay as you go.

"You pay for your subscriptions each month. We don't check credit scores, require a minimum income, or require money upfront. That was a very intentional decision to make this accessible," said Kyle Samejima, Executive Director of Minneapolis Climate Action. 

Each month you'll get a bill credit from Xcel Energy. You get to keep the entire bill credit, but you send a portion of it to Minneapolis Climate Action to pay for your subscription.

Samejima says your bill credit will always be higher than what you pay Minneapolis Climate Action.  

"We are committed to prioritizing North High School and Minneapolis families," said Samejima. "Especially community members with low incomes to make sure that they finally get a chance to participate in the renewable energy transition in ways that benefit them, too."

The second option is paying for your subscription upfront. You'll also get a bill credit from Xcel Energy each month, and you'll pay a $47 maintenance fee once a year.

Here's information about how much money you can save on your electric bill.

It's a great and easy way to join the renewable energy movement and put money back in your pocket.

"It's hard to bring these projects forward. So it's a great opportunity, a rare opportunity. I encourage people to ask the questions they may have about it and then go for it if you feel comfortable," said Terrill.

You have to live in Hennepin County or a county that touches Hennepin County and be an Xcel Energy customer to participate.  

There are about 100 spots left.

Samejima adds that this project is also beneficial to the community because it provides local jobs and partners with local solar developers and installers that are Black-owned.  

The solar garden goes live early this summer.

Watch the latest coverage from the KARE11 Sunrise in our YouTube playlist:


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