National tour to showcase Minneapolis’ public and private solar energy sites

On Saturday, Oct. 2, Minneapolis residents will join more than 150,000 people across the U.S. touring more than 5,000 homes, businesses and schools to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is a series of open houses featuring about 12 Minneapolis properties, and more than 50 solar-powered homes, businesses and organizations in other Minnesota communities who are participating in the 15th annual National Solar Tour. This year, the City's Royalston Maintenance Facility with its solar photovoltaic array system, will be on the tour. The array is mounted on a mast arm that automatically adjusts to the sun in the morning and tracks its path throughout the day.

The free self-guided tour, which is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is an excellent opportunity to learn about solar energy and energy efficiency and talk with building owners, builders, architects and planners about their experiences. The tour showcases how solar energy and other forms of renewable energy can be used to improve property values while reducing monthly energy bills, reducing harmful carbon emissions, and tapping tax credits and cash incentives. Participants have incorporated solar thermal, solar photovoltaic (PV), and passive solar, as well as alternative energy technologies such as geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines.

The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES), the local chapter of ASES. ASES has lead national efforts to promote solar energy education, public outreach and advocacy for more than 50 years. The National Solar Tour is expected to run in all 50 states this year.

To make solar energy more accessible for homes and businesses by 2015, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Initiative. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are partnering with local organizations to help mainstream solar in the coming decade and will implement many projects during the next two years.

Minneapolis is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the country. Currently three City buildings have solar photovoltaic systems, and the City is now installing a large-scale solar photovoltaic project at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which will be the largest in the Upper Midwest when completed later this year. Thanks to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the City will install solar on a variety of other government buildings along the Energy Innovation Corridor (the planned Central Corridor light rail line). Other solar Minneapolis efforts include Minneapolis’ unique program to provide microgrants to community organizations to support their fight against climate change and help them save money, including two grants in 2010 that are piloting solar programs. The City encourages property owners to make sure their buildings are energy efficient before installing solar.

Published Sep. 28, 2010