Byron solar site gets site OK, other permits pending
At 200 megawatts, a proposed solar farm south of Byron would be the largest in the state.
BYRON, Minn. — A proposed solar plant south of Byron, Minnesota, has cleared more regulatory hurdles bringing it closer to construction.
If fully approved, the project would be the largest solar generating facility in Minnesota. Briefly.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a meeting March 9 accepted a certificate of need and granted a site permit for the project that will cover nearly 1,600 acres of land southwest of Byron in Canisteo and Mantorville townships in Dodge County.
The plant, built by EDF Renewables, a subsidiary of French utility Group, EDF, would produce up to 200 megawatts of electricity, which would make it the largest capacity solar farm in Minnesota when it goes on line. That would provide enough energy to offset energy consumption of up to 30,000 homes, according to EDF. Under current plans, construction is expected to begin yet this year could go online in 2025.
However, the proposed Sherco Solar project in Sherburne County, which is about a year behind EDF’s Byron project, promises a 460 megawatt capacity.
With the site permit cleared for the Byron project, the next major regulatory hurdle it faces is grid interconnection agreement. The agreement allows the project to plug into the existing electrical infrastructure to move the power generated by the farm into the regional electric grid run by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.
In an interview with the Post Bulletin last week, John Tuma, PUC commissioner, said connecting to a regional grid is usually one of the biggest hurdles new projects face. Most grid substations tend to already run at capacity.
“Our grid is over-prescribed,” Tuma said.
Connecting to those grids often requires expensive improvements to the grid infrastructure.
However, the Byron project has a leg up with that, Tuma said. The line and substation the project is connecting into outside Byron has capacity to support about half the project and therefore half the needed interconnection agreement has been approved.
The project would require constructing an additional substation. The final site plan has not yet been approved.