ALBERT LEA, Minn. — Freeborn County Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved the construction of an approximately 10-acre solar farm north of Hartland near the county line.
The farm, expected to provide solar power for at least 25 years, was approved after Freeborn County Environmental Services said it met standards.
Construction on the farm to be owned by U.S. Solar is expected to start by the end of 2019 and take about three months.
The power from the farm will be managed by Xcel Energy. Landowners and businesses will subscribe, and Xcel will credit what they subscribed for to their bills.
Proceeds are expected to stay in Freeborn County, said Planning and Zoning Administrator Trevor Bordelon.
After the vote, U.S. Solar project development analyst Alex Yager said the company will plant pollinator-friendly habitat and deep-rooted grasses under the solar arrays, which will help stop erosion and runoff from nearby farm fields.
The project is expected to bring in $3.7 million over 25 years and generate enough power for 225 homes annually.
After the meeting, board Chairman Christopher Shoff said "I think it’s the changing landscape of renewable energy." He cited a large solar farm near Claremont in Dodge County as well as smaller ones scattered about the landscape.
Shoff said he hopes approval "spurs discussion" about solar energy, and it is included on buildings and other fields.