Mankato collaborates with a solar energy developer that makes itself accessible to lower-income households

The city of Mankato approved a subscription with Cooperative Energy Futures solar array in Waseca County.
Updated: Feb. 5, 2020 at 6:14 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Last week, KEYC News Now reported on the city council meeting that approved a subscription with a solar garden developer that has a bigger picture in mind.

In 2014, Minnesota’s community solar program launched, allowing independent developers and subscribers to work together.

According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Minnesota is the national leader in community solar, with more than a third of all community solar projects in the U.S. being in the state.

A big part of that, the state’s community solar policy.

Cooperative Energy Futures got in on the action and is currently responsible for eight solar gardens in Minnesota, one being just outside of Janesville in Waseca County.

Cooperative Energy Futures did something different to appeal to what they have identified as a void with 40% of the Minnesota population.

Fourty percent of residents don’t meet standard eligibility requirements for solar garden subscriptions, with restrictions like credit scores being a barrier.

To make subscription flexibility possible, back-up subscribers are used to acting as a security blanket.

“There is flexibility in the terms for an individual or a small business that allows for someone who might otherwise be seen as a poor credit risk or not able to provide the financial stability to the solar array to be able to opt-in,” Assistant City Manager Alison Zelms said.

In this case, in a recent city council meeting, the city of Mankato approved a subscription with Cooperative Energy Futures solar array in Waseca County to provide a clean energy source for the city while allowing the lower-income families a chance at low cost and clean energy.

A 15% subscription to be exact.

That percentage will be put toward city lighting and powering the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.

Of course, the benefits are extensive.

“People for a lot of years have not had much of a relationship with their energy. The community solar program is a dynamic that helps people feel a real connection to their energy and knowing where it comes from, they can physically see where the solar plant is,” Project Development Manager Bruce Konewko said.

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