Solar program could power up immigrant businesses in Twin Cities

The nation’s leading renewable energy lab is developing a model to help businesses in three diverse Twin Cities business districts plug into solar power. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory selected the Twin Cities for its Solar Energy Innovation Network, a program that aims to address barriers to solar power nationwide. The project is working with local groups to develop models that can help business owners along Lake Street, West Broadway Avenue, and University Avenue to install solar power. 

The Lake Street Council, a nonprofit that promotes business along the south Minneapolis corridor, partnered with two other groups, the Neighborhood Development Center and the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, to apply for the program. The three groups were awarded funding to gauge interest in solar power among business owners in the corridors. 

Although the project is not supporting direct construction or financing of new projects, the goal is to create models that will support a spurt of solar installations in the areas. The project envisions a future in which megawatts of solar power could be spread across the roofs of corner stores and family-run restaurants in small, 15 to 30-kilowatt installations—enough to power most small businesses. Commercial roofs are flatter than most homes, and typically can hold larger panels. 


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