Blaine Residents Are Fired Up Over Proposed Solar Garden

December 05, 2017 10:23 PM

A Blaine neighborhood is pushing back on a proposal to build a 23-acre solar garden in their community, arguing the project would take down property values and present a health risk.

"So when we moved here, we kind of expected that there would never be anything built up there," resident Luke Dewey said.


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Behind Dewey's backyard is a large mound covered in grass and snow, a now-shuttered 40-acre  landfill. Dewey says that mound is used for four-wheeling or sledding, depending on the time of year.

"So when we moved here we kind of expected that there would never be anything built up there," he said. 

And for the past three years that's been the case, nothing built, just green space. But some locals like Kathy Jackanich question the location.

"Solar farms previously had been in agricultural and rural areas because of the eyesore and potential down pull on home values," Jackanich said.

The city of Blaine is meeting with residents Tuesday to discuss a controversial proposed solar power plant. If the proposal could affect you and you'd like to have your say, let Blaine's mayor know.


Connexus Energy proposed the project and would be its financial backer. The site is expected to have nearly 14,000 solar panels, plus a battery station and privacy fence. 

"Our first step is to file a conditional use permit and negotiate the details so that the city and the residents are happy with it," Connexus's Greg Ridderbusch said. "Let's get that that done, then we will be installing it by summertime of next year and have it in production by next fall."  

Among the attendees of a presentation by Connexus Monday night was Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan.

"It's an alternative energy and limits the use of coal which everybody wants," Ryan said. "It limits the carbon footprint."

The project is one of several in Blaine, Ramsey and St. Francis.  Connexus said the goal is to be online by next summer. 

The push for community solar farms is predicated by a state requirement that investor-owned utilities get some of their power from solar by 2020.  Plus, there's an increasing demand from consumers who prefer solar power. 

Other energy companies have plans for hundreds of similar projects in Wright, Dakota and Washington counties. 


Todd Wilson & Beth McDonough

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