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MSP airport building state’s largest solar energy site

A $25.4 million solar energy project now underway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is being touted as the state’s largest and is expected to create more than 250 jobs.

Most of the new jobs will be construction related, but a Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman said several permanent jobs associated with operating and maintaining the new system is also part of the plan.

Gov. Mark Dayton joined airport officials and leaders of the Metropolitan Airports Commission Thursday morning to announce the beginning of the project’s construction. The project is expected to be complete by October 2015 and increase the state’s cumulative solar capacity by roughly 20 percent.

MSP estimates that the installation will generate about 20 percent of its total power supply when it is operating at peak capacity. The airport called the plan the largest demand reduction and energy supply airport project in the world. Construction is taking place atop two parking ramps at Terminal 1-Lindbergh, and four more electric vehicle charging stations will be installed, bringing the airport’s total to 18.

Twin Cities BusinessMSP said the site will convert about 7,750 metal halide lights into energy-saving LED technology. A spokesman said that over 30 years, the MAC will spend $10 million less on energy costs as a result of the project. Funding for the project is being provided by Thrivent financial at a rate of 0.75 percent.

Dayton was on hand for a report on clean energy jobs in Minnesota. On Thursday, the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development said more than 15,300 Minnesotans were employed in the field, a 78 percent increase since 2000.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/04/2014 - 09:08 am.

    It would be helpful

    for the reported to determine how the state defines a “job” in this context. How many hours/months/years are required for the work to be listed as a new job?

  2. Submitted by Steve Rose on 10/04/2014 - 04:30 pm.

    Perhaps, a break-even analysis

    According to an unnamed spokesman:

    “A spokesman said that over 30 years, the MAC will spend $10 million less on energy costs as a result of the project.” The way that is worded, it seems the spokesman did not include 30 years of operating costs.

    Solar cells have about a 25 year life, losing some of their efficiency each year. A $25M project that saves $10M over 30 years will never break even. Best case is a $15M loss.

    Information on solar cell lifespan:

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/20/2014 - 12:13 pm.


      You’re thinking the numbers are gross, which gets you a $15 million loss after costs are factored out. What they’re talking about is net: $10 million in savings after all the costs have been factored in.

  3. Submitted by Eric Sandeen on 10/06/2014 - 08:57 pm.

    Why so expensive?

    The 2 MW Slayton site clocked in at $7 million, or $3.50/watt. This 3 MW project costs $25 million, or $8.30/watt. Granted, it has some lighting retrofits, and other differences as well, but why the large discrepancy? The price tag seems pretty steep to me.

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