Solar panels copy 1

The city of Eden Prairie used an October energy challenge to boost enrollment in renewable energy programs.

This story was updated at 10 a.m. on Nov. 29.

A city renewable energy challenge, held during the month of October, exceeded its organizers' expectations. 

The Renewable Energy Challenge asked residents to sign up for renewable energy through their energy provider. Forty-seven households entered the contest, which began Oct. 1 and ended Oct. 31.

At the end of the challenge, one winner was selected at random from the entrants with the prize being a choice between a smart thermostat or a visit from Xcel's Home Energy Squad.

Carol Lundgren, a sustainability specialist with the city of Eden Prairie, said that the participation exceeded her expectations.

“We’re planning future challenges, but we’re not sure what they’ll look like just yet,” Lundgren said. The city modeled its energy challenge on a similar program in St. Louis Park and is working with several renewable energy organizations to shape its future community engagement.

Xcel Energy’s Windsource and Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative’s Green Source Wind Renewable Energy Certificate were the main providers in the energy challenge. 

In the past several years, the city has leaned into renewable energy as part of its sustainability initiative.

Just over three years ago, the city had a 14.7-kilowatt solar system installed on the roof of the Eden Prairie Community Center. The solar panels are visible from the second floor near the conference rooms; a kiosk on the first floor shows the energy savings from the panels. The city maintains the panels using All Energy Solar as a contractor, and they’re owned and fully paid for by the city, city manager Rick Getschow said.

Other phases of the solar initiative include future subscriptions to off-site community solar gardens and solar panels on the roof of the Eden Prairie City Center, public works maintenance facility and water treatment plant.

Residents also have the option to subscribe to renewable energy through their energy provider at any time of the year. Customers who subscribe to a third-party community solar garden begin receiving credits on their monthly utilities bill for the solar energy that their subscription contributes to the Xcel Energy grid, according to Xcel’s website.

Read more about Eden Prairie energy projects here:

This story has been updated to correct the focus of the renewable energy challenge. The emphasis was wind energy, rather than solar energy.

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