The White Earth Nation Community Solar for Community Action project, led by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in Backus, recently received support from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

It was included in the annual recommendations made to the 2019 Minnesota Legislature on how to allocate proceeds from the state's Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

This project is a community solar energy assistance project of RREAL delivered in partnership with the White Earth Nation to install a 200-kilowatt community solar garden. This will provide renewable energy to participating low-income White Earth tribal members.

The project aims to increase the state's annual renewable energy production by an estimated 253,837 kilowatt hours. This would offset up to 206,685 pounds of coal equivalent, equal to sequestering the carbon of 223 acres of U.S. forest in one year and providing solar energy assistance benefits to up to 100 White Earth families, a news release stated.

If approved by the 2019 Legislature and signed into law by the governor, the project would begin in July 2019.

This second 100 percent low-income community solar array in Minnesota builds on the success of the first commission-supported Leech Lake Band project. The White Earth Nation community solar garden is projected to serve an additional 100 families and provide environmental education and technical workforce development for up to 60 students and 10 solar installation interns.

The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund is a permanent dedicated fund in the Minnesota state treasury that was established by 77 percent voter approval of a constitutional amendment in 1988. The amendment directs 40 percent of the net proceeds of the Minnesota State Lottery, or approximately 7 cents of every dollar spent on playing the lottery, into the trust fund. The trust fund is intended to provide a long-term, stable source of funding for innovative and far-sighted activities that protect and enhance Minnesota's environment and natural resources for the benefit of current citizens and future generations. Since 1991, the trust fund has provided approximately $630 million in support of over 1,600 projects benefiting every county in the state.

RREAL is headquartered at 3963 Eighth St. SW, Backus. Contact RREAL at 218-947-3779 or learn more at