Earlier this week marked the start of a new solar array project in the city of Ramsey. The contractors of the project began their tedious job of driving piles in the ground – which will take nearly one week to complete. At the end, there will be a total of 1,515 piles – or posts – installed to support this new solar field. To be more efficient with their time, the contractors are using machinery that swiftly digs out the hole that the post is then placed into.

Once the posts are completely installed, the racking installation will begin. This size of a field will be able to hold 13,851 solar modules. As long as everything goes to plan, the racking will start the week of July 23rd and continue over the next 30-45 days.  Similar to the small solar garden at the Connexus Energy headquarters, the landscaping below the panels will be filled with wildflowers and other plants that promote a healthy home for pollinators, instead of being filled with a gravel pit like most solar fields.

Once complete, this new solar project will be 3.4 megawatts with an annual generation output that is equivalent to the power usage of 700 homes! Connexus Energy is working hard to move towards more sustainable and reusable power sources and this project will help them move in the right direction. Once the solar array is up and running, the addition of solar battery storage will start.

What exactly is solar battery storage? Brian Burandt, VP Power Supply, says Connexus has found an innovative way to make solar energy more valuable by using batteries. “Energy prices differ throughout the day. They increase when people come home from work in the evenings and really spike on extreme temperature days.” Most solar energy is produced when there is lower demand and the price is lower. Says Burandt, “Our plan is to discharge the stored solar energy during peak hours when energy costs are the highest. We refer to this as time-shifting solar energy to a time of day when it has more value.”

A bit farther north in the Athens Township, Connexus is working on an even larger solar array project. With 6.6 MW of solar generation, this field will produce the annual average energy usage of 1,360 homes. Nearly doubled in size from the Ramsey project, the Athens Township solar array will contain 2,940 posts to support 27,189 solar panels and should be completed by the end of 2018.

Stay tuned as we continue with more exciting innovations in the near future!