Interior utility breaks ground on test solar farm

An artist’s rendition of what Golden Valley Electric Association’s new solar farm will look like. (Courtesy of Golden Valley Electric Association)

In June, Golden Valley Electric Association, the cooperative that provides electricity to the Interior, broke ground on a new photovoltaic solar demonstration project in Fairbanks.

The solar array is a small-scale test and will be completed at the end of October. It’s expected to add more than 500 kilowatts to the grid, enough to power around 70 homes.

Nathan Minnema is the project manager. He says the solar array fits into the utility’s goal to reduce their carbon emissions, while being mindful not to raise energy costs.

“We’ll get a good feel on what our average cost of power will be from this project,” Minnema said. “And then that is information that we can present to our CEO and board and let them be able to decide on what or how much they want to expand.”

This project is too small to have a significant impact on emissions, but if the dollars pencil out, it could lead to a larger-scale solar installation further down the road.

Golden Valley currently gets 10% of its electricity from renewables — mostly wind and hydro power and a small percentage individual-owned solar. The rest comes from oil, natural gas, and coal.

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