Construction is complete on the North Star Solar project, the largest single solar energy facility in the Midwest and one of the largest in the U.S. More than 440,000 photovoltaic solar panels spanning 1,000 acres in Chisago County are expected to produce enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes.

Partners in the project celebrated the 100-megawatt facility with a ribbon cutting on Oct. 19, followed by a bus tour of the North Star site about five miles southeast of North Branch at 9821 367th Street.

The project is expected to come online in December 2016.

The North Star Solar project employed more than 300 workers during construction. Once operational, the plant will create six to 12 full-time jobs.

Total engineering and construction costs for the project were estimated at about $180 million, with approximately $350,000 per year of production and property tax revenues for Chisago County and local jurisdictions.

D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) manages the property which is owned by a DESRI affiliate. It was developed by Community Energy Solar and constructed by Swinerton Renewable Energy. Xcel Energy will purchase power from the facility as part of a 25-year deal. The North Star Solar project is part of Xcel Energy’s plan to deliver a third of its energy from renewables by 2030 in response to Minnesota Statute 216B.1691, which requires that public utilities produce at least 1.5 percent of retail electricity sales from solar energy by 2020.

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