New York — Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company has purchased a pre-operational 11.3-MWdc solar project from OneEnergy Renewables. The Fillinona project, which is located on four separate sites across Minnesota, builds out Greenbacker’s operations in a state with robust clean energy goals.
The project illustrates Greenbacker’s holistic approach to land management at its renewable energy assets. Two of its sites, Stockton and Fountain, will have pollinator-friendly vegetation planted beneath the solar panel arrays, to help support declining pollinator populations and contribute to a healthy local biosphere. The other two sites, Hazel (near Lanesboro) and Rushford Village, will be planted to provide grazing for nearby farmers’ sheep.
Land for the project is leased from local farm families and towns, generating reliable income for the landowners over the project’s life. Two of the sites are also part of an agreement to sell renewable energy credits to Stonyfield Organic, the country’s leading organic yogurt manufacturer, which has committed to having its dairy supply chain run on 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
Fillinona is slated to reach commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2021, producing clean power for Fillmore and Winona counties in southeastern Minnesota. On October 25, 2021, the offtaker utility, MiEnergy Cooperative, hosted an event at the Rushford Village site to commemorate the project’s mechanical completion.
The project was developed and constructed by OneEnergy, a seasoned developer of community and utility-scale solar projects, and represents Greenbacker’s largest direct partnership with the company.
“Working on this project with OneEnergy and Stonyfield, two firms focused on healthy people and a healthy planet, has been a natural fit,” said Charles Wheeler, CEO of GREC. “Environmental health is a top priority for us—one that goes hand in hand with being responsible custodians of the land our projects occupy.”
“OneEnergy is excited to bring the Fillinona projects into operation and advance our partnership with Greenbacker and MiEnergy” said Eric Udelhofen, Development Director of OneEnergy. “We appreciate the trust our landowner and community partners have placed in us to see the projects from initial concept to operations, and we look forward to remaining involved as they transition to serving their communities with a dual purpose: clean energy production and ecosystem services.”
Each of Fillinona’s four sites have the same long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with MiEnergy, a rural electric cooperative whose consumers will soon start receiving locally generated clean energy from the project.
“In cooperation with Dairyland Power Cooperative, we’ve been able to enter into this PPA for local, renewable energy within our electric service territory,” said Brian Krambeer, MiEnergy president and CEO. “The strategic location of the arrays will provide wholesale power cost savings that will benefit all members of our cooperative.”