Re Energize Maplewood: Solar Potentials Study

Maplewood was awarded a 2017 Seed Grant from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) for Re-Energize Maplewood!   The project’s focus is on both energy efficiency actions as well as renewable energy.  It has built on the success of the Energize Maplewood! energy actions and also represents the first step towards the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan renewable energy goals. 

The project included four primary focus areas:

Battle of the Parks  - From June through August 2018 two Maplewood manufactured home parks (Beaver Lake Estates and Rolling Hills Estates) representing over 500 homes, battled to be the “biggest energy losers.” Homeowners signed up for Home Energy Squad visits provided by the City’s project partner CEE.  Home Energy Squad visits help homeowners save on their utility bills and installs energy saving products at no additional cost – so everyone that signs up is a winner!  The winner of the Battle of the Parks, though, was Rolling Hills Estates homeowners with the most Home Energy Squad visits conducted!

 Re-Energize Your Home - In 2016 the City sponsored the Energize Your Home challenge where 98 households of friends, neighbors and colleagues competed on twelve teams to save the most energy to become the City’s "biggest energy losers".During Re-Energize Your Home, we revisited all 98 households to explore the potential of solar energy as their next step in energy savings and improved environmental footprint. The project used the State of Minnesota’s Solar Suitability tool and other resources to explore the potential for solar pv at each of these households.

Re-Energize Your Business - As one of the Energize Maplewood actions in 2016, the City conducted the Benchmark Your Business to help businesses measure, reduce, and manage their energy use.  Since that program, these organizations have reduced their annual electric use by over 480,000 kwh annually!  With the great success these organizations had in reducing their energy use, we decided to revisit them to help them determine what the benefits of solar energy could be for them as their next step in energy efficiency.  paleBLUEdot created detailed solar feasibility assessments for each of these building sites to identify their solar pv potential and payback. 

The Solar “Top 40” – paleBLUEdot conducted a rooftop survey of all buildings in Maplewood and identified 30 buildings which are all ideal solar pv sites and which represent the range of building types found in Maplewood.  We then developed detailed solar feasibility assessments of these “Top 30” sites to identify just how good solar could be for these buildings.  The feasibility efforts were identical to what was done for the Re-Energize Your Business effort, and the results are pretty astounding: in total, these sites could produce over 28,000,000 kwh in solar electricity annually! 

In total, the solar potential identified in the Re-Energize Maplewood! project represents

  • 29,169,900 kwh of solar electricity generated annually

  • 286,300 metric tons of greenhouse gases avoided

  • 4,162,000,000 gallons of water conserved

  • Up to $109,000,000 in life time electricity cost savings to the building owners

  • And the potential of up to 8 full time solar array maintenance jobs in the community.

  • Ultimately these arrays could save the “Top 40” sites as much as $106,000,000 over their lifespan.

Solar For Your Home or Business
Installing solar panels on your roof is a sound financial decision in almost every state in the nation and Minnesota is no exception!  Many business and home owners are unfamiliar with solar and are unsure exactly how to “go solar” – so here are a few tips:

A key consideration for going solar is often what the economic payback might look like, so exploring payback is a great first step.  Costs and payback can change based on how large of an array you install compared with how much energy you use – so it can help to explore different solar array sizes to find the size array that gives you the best benefit.  Solar pv ownership is typically a great long-term investment, however, out-right purchase of the array may not always be the best option for some – in that instance there are a number of alternative financing and ownership options.  You can find resources for how to explore the solar potential here.