D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments has acquired the 100MW North Star Solar Project (North Star) from Community Energy and begun construction on the project, which is located in Chisago County, Minnesota.
“We are pleased to partner with renewable industry leaders like Xcel Energy and Community Energy as we begin construction on the largest solar energy project in the Midwest,” said Bryan Martin, managing director and head of U.S. Private Equity at the D. E. Shaw group. “DESRI is excited to expand its footprint into Minnesota with a groundbreaking project that we expect to provide both jobs and clean energy to the region’s citizens and businesses.”
Upon completion in late 2016, North Star will be the single largest solar energy project in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the U.S. North Star is located on private agricultural land and has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Minnesota-based Xcel Energy.
“We’re pleased to see the North Star project moving forward as we work to bring more solar energy to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy Minnesota. “This large scale solar project is part of our plan to double the amount of renewable energy we deliver to customers and achieve a 63 percent carbon free energy by 2030.”
The North Star project will ultimately comprise more than 400,000 crystalline photovoltaic modules using single-axis tracking technology that follows the sun as it rises in the east and sets in the west. This tracking technology helps to increase both the project’s output and the value of the output to the utility system. In total, the project is expected to generate enough power for approximately 20,000 homes in its first year.
“This project is part of our vision to bring utility-scale solar at a competitive price to Minnesota and the broader Midwest,” said Eric Blank, President of Community Energy Solar, LLC. “We were drawn to Chisago County as a great combination of available land, welcoming communities and a strong interconnection point that is close to the Minneapolis / St. Paul load centers.”
The project will be constructed by Swinerton Renewable Energy, a leading national renewable energy construction firm. The project is expected to employ over 300 people during construction and come online in late 2016.
“North Star will not only offer over 300 jobs during construction, but also provide the local workforce with valuable training that will benefit future solar projects in the area,” said George Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “We are proud to play a role in the continued growth of the utility-scale solar economy in the Midwest.”