ST. ANSGAR | Heartland Power Cooperative, St. Ansgar, celebrated the establishment of the largest solar array in the state of Iowa on Friday with a ribbon cutting.
The $1.5 million solar array is located on a 4 ½-acre rural tract east of St. Ansgar on U.S. Highway 218. It is the home of 2,706, 315 watt solar panel units, making it an 852 kW project that will produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours annually, enough to power approximately 125 homes each.
The estimated annual output per unit is 425 kilowatt hours.
The array, a field of solar panels arranged in frames, is fenced on land leased from Junior and Virginia Boerjan.
“We decided to lease our land, because it was the thing to do,” said Virginia Boerjan. “Solar is always there.”
“For 75 years, Heartland Power Cooperative has had a history of working together with its members to provide them the best,” said board president Richard Rosenberg. “In August 2013, it became our goal to pursue the idea of a member-owned solar-power cooperative.”
A survey was sent out to members asking their opinion on pursuing the idea of a member-owned solar array.
“Our members responded positively to the idea of the cooperative becoming a leader in solar renewable energy,” said CEO Jon Leerar. “We had many questions in being able to deliver the project but, as you can see today, we are proud of the outcome.”
Construction started in October 2014, with panels being installed during the months of December 2014 through January 2015.
The project was completed and ready for testing in March before it went online to Heartland Power members on April 1.
Approximately two-thirds of the 2,706 units have already been purchased by cooperative members. Members were able to purchase as few as one subscription or as many units as necessary to cover their annual electric use.
Each unit was originally available for $700. This one-time cost covered the construction, maintenance and insurance needed for the 20-year span of the project.
Community Solar is an attractive option for members who wish to participate in solar energy, but don’t want the individual research, construction or maintenance required of a stand-alone system, said Leerar.
Following the ceremony, members were able to sign their names to the back of a solar panel.
“Safe, renewable, member-owned electricity, that’s the power of Heartland Power Community Solar,” said Leerar.