Xcel program connects St. Cloud charter school to solar panels in Starbuck – SC Times

ST. CLOUD — The St. Cloud Math and Science Academy is set to save around $2,000 each year on its Xcel Energy bill, thanks to two solar arrays over 60 miles away in Starbuck.

The charter school teaches a STEM-focused curriculum to students in grades K-6, so when it moved from a rented space to their own building in 2017, the school considered solar energy both to save money and to teach students about renewable energy, said Administrative Assistant Sandi Eikmeier.

At the same time, Minneapolis-based Nokomis Energy was planning to create more solar gardens and sell that energy through Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community Solar program, said Nokomis Energy Community Engagement Director Corey Orehek.

One of two community solar gardens in Starbuck, MN, which benefit subscribers with energy savings through Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Program

Through the program, Xcel agrees to purchase power from the gardens with bill credits, which get purchased by the garden’s subscribers and count towards the subscriber’s power bills, Orehek said.

Essentially, subscribers to the solar gardens get paid for the energy they create, as if the panels were installed on their own roof, in the form of bill credits.

“There’s no upfront costs, and there’s no changes to the school’s facilities,” Orehek said. “This provides the school with benefits at virtually no risk.”

February 26, 2021 susan ward