A partnership between Olmsted County, Cenergy Power and People’s Energy Cooperative is turning tax-forfeited land into an energy producer.
“Before Olmsted County acquired this land, it was originally a radar monitoring base used by the U.S. government,” Mat Miller, the county’s director of facilities and building operations, said of the approximately 6 acres at 4613 70th Ave. NE in Haverhill Township.
A private purchase of the land, which was part of a larger property, led to the accumulation of waste and contamination that made much of the combined 22 acres unusable before the county invested time and money into cleanup.
“Our goal is to continue restoring the land to make the entire property usable,” Miller said of the 22 acres.
Cenergy is leasing the 6-acre portion to develop a solar array, which will sell the power to People’s Energy Cooperative through a 25-year agreement signed in May.
The partnership between Cenergy, the cooperative and Olmsted County to restore the polluted site is expected to have positive environmental and community impacts, according to the partners.
“Through the support of the Haverhill Township and the local community, it is projects like this that have helped Cenergy and its partners reinvest in communities by creating new clean energy, jobs and tax revenues,” said Cenergy Power Vice President Nader Yarpezeshkan.
People’s Energy President and CEO Mike Henke said the project will power approximately 200 homes in the region.
“This project checks so many boxes for the cooperative because it aligns with our mission to provide innovative energy solutions for our members, our values of good stewardship and involvement in our communities, as well as our strategic goal to explore, evaluate, and pursue renewables that provide member value,” he said.
Miller said room remains to expand efforts as cleanup of the larger site continues.
“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” he said. “Once the cleanup is completed, we would love to see a second solar array developed on the site.”
With construction of the solar array starting Thursday, it is expected to be completed in the summer.