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Minnesota Power and Minnesota National Guard to celebrate constructed solar array at Camp Ripley

In this Aug. 2 file photo, A solar panel is moved into position with a machine on the 65 acre solor array at Camp Ripley. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls) Video

CAMP RIPLEY—Camp Ripley will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the solar array observation platform on Camp Ripley.

"Solar energy jobs in Minnesota have grown 232 percent in just the last three years. The Camp Ripley solar energy array helps continue this tremendous economic growth, while ensuring the Minnesota National Guard has a reliable energy source," said Lt. Governor Tina Smith in a news release. "Our Administration remains committed to renewable energy efforts that are good for our health, good for our environment, and good for our jobs."

A partnership between Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard has produced a solar array at Camp Ripley in Morrison County that boosts clean energy production for Minnesota Power customers and provides energy security for Camp Ripley.

"This partnership with Minnesota Power is an important milestone in our goal of moving toward Net Zero in all that we do," said Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. "The solar array will not only help provide for our facilities at Camp Ripley, but will also support our surrounding communities with a source of clean energy."

The $25 million, 10-megawatt solar farm covers more than 60 acres of the Camp Ripley cantonment area, making it the largest solar farm in Minnesota and one of the largest on any National Guard installation in the United States. This comes nearly two years after Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2014.

"I want to thank the National Guard for the historic partnership that provides energy security for Camp Ripley and helps Minnesota Power provide the affordable, reliable, safe and clean power for our communities and customers," said Al Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of ALLETE, Minnesota Power's parent company. "This solar array underscores the power of public-private partnerships to transform the nation's energy landscape as Minnesota Power continues to pursue its EnergyForward strategy of diversifying its energy mix while meeting the states' solar energy goals.

The 63-acre solar array contains more than 120,000 panels capable of generating 17,000 megawatt hours per year, or enough energy for nearly 2,000 customers. Its purpose is to provide clean energy to the Minnesota Power network while acting as a ready source for Camp Ripley should a disruption in normal service happen.

The development and construction of this project has helped garner national attention for environmental initiatives in the state and helped raise awareness of clean energy use by other agencies. The solar array helps the Minnesota National Guard meet energy security and renewable energy goals at Camp Ripley while providing Minnesota Power with one-third of the electricity needed to meet the Minnesota Solar Energy Standard.

"Minnesota has been a nationwide leader in promoting renewable energy, reaping the rewards in good-paying jobs, cost savings for our people, and environmental benefits," said Sen. Nick Frentz.

Al Hodnik, ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, and other invited dignitaries will take part in a salute to the renewable energy partnership that made this achievement possible.

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