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The city of Farmington is expected to save $361,000 in electricity costs over the next 25 years through community solar. Falls Creek Solar Garden in Faribault is one of the solar gardens Farmington subscribes to.

The city of Farmington has saved more than $6,440 in electricity costs over the last four months, and over the next 25 years, that number is expected to hit or exceed $361,000.

The city is harnessing the power of solar energy to help cut electric costs. The panels will not be found next to or on top of buildings because city leaders saw community solar as the best solution.

“We began exploring community solar in 2015,” said Adam Kienberger, Farmington community development director. “We took the time to do our research. Getting this right was important to us.”

Community solar is a way for homeowners, businesses and other organizations with Xcel Energy service to get the economic benefits of solar energy without the hassle and cost of putting up their own panels. Subscribers are allocated a portion of a nearby solar garden based on their previous energy usage. The savings are then delivered monthly as energy bill credits.

“What really helped sell our City Council was the projections on the value of solar,” Kienberger said. “The fact that we were able to lock in a fixed savings rate throughout the length of the contract was helpful. The savings will help us during budget planning cycles.”

City Hall, Schmitz-Maki Arena and the senior center are the properties receiving energy credits. The city is currently subscribed to two solar gardens based in Faribault and will be subscribed to three more by the end of the year. According to Nokomis Energy, the amount of energy Farmington has saved so far is equivalent to 1.2 million pounds of coal.

“Everyone has a different reason for subscribing to community solar,” said Corey Orehek, community engagement director for Nokomis Energy. “The city of Farmington was able to lower their energy bills without having to make changes to their facilities. I think the positive impact this has on their taxpayers really resonated with city leadership.”

In addition to solar garden subscriptions, landowners who are Xcel Energy customers can host solar gardens on their property. It’s a piece of the equation that allows subscribers like the city of Farmington to benefit from solar energy.

To learn more about subscribing to community solar or hosting a solar garden, visit http://www.nokomisenergy.com.

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