Renewable energy is comprising an ever-larger portion of power for East Central Energy (ECE) members, including the power it receives from its wholesale power supplier Great River Energy (GRE). 

Construction of a two-megawatt solar array has begun on 15 leased acres of land adjacent to Sandquist Park northeast of Cambridge. 

ENGIE North America, a private energy company, will sell the array’s yield under a 25-year contract to GRE who will then deliver and sell the entire output to ECE. The only investment for ECE in the project is to connect the array to their lines. The capacity of the solar array should generate enough electricity for more than 300 homes.

The layout includes a low-growing, pollinator-friendly meadow, eliminating the need for mowing and other costly upkeep. This new natural habitat is equivalent to planting wildflowers and grasses in over 9,000 backyard gardens. The deep roots of pollinator grasses also have significant soil and storm water benefits. 

The power generation portfolio for GRE includes more than 450 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, 200 MW of hydropower, 4 MW of solar, which equates to 25% of GRE’s total portfolio. 

It has announced plans for more than 400 MW of favorably-priced wind energy by 2020. 

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