The PHA rises to the public need of the future

10 hi-rises powered by 100 percent solar energy


Across the Nation, communities have demanded more affordable and renewable energy options. Renewable energy sustains natural resources and promotes new economic opportunities. The Saint Paul Public Housing Agency (PHA) is empowering its residents by supporting the PHA’s access to renewable energy.

The Community Solar Garden program was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013. It provided Minnesotans with convenient opportunities to invest in renewable resources and contribute to the State’s goal of 80 percent reduction in carbon emission by 2050. Under the program, Xcel Energy customers can purchase a subscription to a Community Solar Garden (CSG) in exchange for a credit on their monthly energy bill.

In early 2014, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the program. However, in June of 2015, the PUC revised the CSG and established new regulations, which reduced the size of the CSG to one megawatt and restricted independent energy developers to co-locate up to five CSGs.

Earlier this year and before the PUC established the new CSG regulations, the PHA announced that a 25 year CSG agreement with Geronimo Energy was pending. Under the new CSG regulations, the scope of PHA’s subscription agreement has been redefined but is still significant. The PHA has continued to strive for the opportunity to provide cleaner, renewable energy, and has worked with developers to comply with the PUC regulations.

The PHA is pleased to continue its work with Geronimo Energy to provide 10 hi-rises and the CAO building with 100 percent solar energy. The 10 hi-rises provide affordable housing to 1,600 low-income seniors and other individuals. The agreement will save the PHA an estimated $130,000 per year in energy costs and offset the entire annual electrical consumption in these 11 buildings with clean, renewable resources. The PHA will save over $3 million in energy costs over the life of the contract. The PHA’s cost savings will be reinvested to provide residents with affordable housing opportunities.

“It is exciting that the PHA will enter into the world of solar energy for many of our hi-rise homes,” stated Louise Seeba, general counsel for the PHA, and the person who oversaw the proposal process, “We will be saving nearly $130,000 per year that can be redirected from energy bills to providing safe affordable housing to those in greatest need.”

“Solar is the future to meet the demands of the growing public. The PHA wants to see this become a reality,” stated PHA Executive Director Jon Gutzmann. “The solar garden program provides a feasible opportunity for the public to invest in a sustainable energy resource.”

“Solar power is definitely the future; several countries have been investing in renewable resources. It is time our state and the nation listens to the needs of the public and provides opportunities for all levels of income consumers,” said Yen Tran, PHA’s Green Initiative Technician. “It is wonderful that the PHA is committed to invest in a healthier living environment for all.

Geronimo’s Rosemount, Ursa, and Northfield Community Solar Garden developments were selected by the PHA after competing in a Request for Proposals to solar garden developers. The over $30,000,000 projects are located in Dakota county, will provide power directly to the local community, and are expected to employ over 90 construction and related services during installation.

Geronimo Energy is a utility-scale renewable energy development company headquartered in Edina, Minnesota. Geronimo has developed multiple operating wind farms and solar projects throughout the United States.


This information was provided by the St. Paul Public Housing Agency.