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Minneapolis, Xcel Energy Team Up To Go Solar At Parade Ice Garden

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Officials from the city of Minneapolis unveiled their latest eco-friendly project on Thursday.

The Parks and Recreation board, along with representatives from Xcel Energy, gave us an up close look at the new rooftop of the Parade Ice Garden. The power of the sun will now help power the busy ice rink.

The ice arena features 374 new rooftop solar panels in 21 sections that now power Parade Ice Garden.  It's a big eco-friendly step forward for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

"We want this system to be available and here for future generations and things like this project that we're doing with Xcel, it is one of the ways that we can move forward on our sustainability goals," Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Anita Tabb said.

The project will generate roughly 10 to 15 percent of the building's annual energy consumption.  It's the result of a $1 million grant from Xcel Energy, plus matching funds from Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

It's part of what Xcel Energy officials call a long-term commitment to investing in solar power.

"We're on a very aggressive path with solar over the next, between now and 2030. We'll go from approximately 15 megawatts of solar at the beginning of 2015 to 2,400 megawatts of solar by the end of 2030," Lee Gabler with Xcel Energy said.

An added bonus: They kept it local. The solar panels at Parade Ice Garden were actually made in Minnesota.

This renewable energy is expected to offset about 130 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

And the goal with this project isn't only about environmental sustainability, there's also a big focus on financial stability.

"The upgrades that we're doing as a result of the solar project are expected to save over $80,000 a year to the taxpayers in Minneapolis," Tabb said.

And they also have three more solar projects in the works for East Phillips Park, Webber Park and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Park.  They will be installed by the end of the year. Proposed installations for Lake Nokomis and Lake Calhoun are still undergoing engineering and investigation.

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