Installation of 1,000 solar panels to provide 25 percent of the facilities electric energy needs
ST. PAUL, MN — Within the next few weeks, University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL) expects to flip the switch on a rooftop solar array that will provide as much as 25 percent of its electricity needs. The installation, which will harness solar energy produced by approximately 1,000 solar panels, will produce roughly 390 kilowatts of power, significantly offsetting the facility’s energy expenses.
The UEL project is part of a larger intercity initiative dubbed the Energy Innovation Corridor, which is an 11-mile long stretch of businesses and infrastructure that straddles the new Metro Green Line that connects Minneapolis and St. Paul with light rail transit service. Government leaders are helping businesses and homeowners along the light-rail reduce their energy usage through energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and the use of public transportation.
As part of that effort, the Metropolitan Council, Xcel Energy and other stakeholders in the project recently targeted a narrower corridor within a quarter-mile of the Green Line in the western part of St. Paul for a one megawatt solar pilot project, with UEL’s installation providing a significant portion.
“This is a major step in demonstrating both the viability and the promise of the Energy Innovation Corridor,” said Eric Pasi, Business Development Director of Innovative Power Systems (IPS), the Roseville-based company that built the project. “The area we’ve targeted for this pilot project is rich with potential sites for alternative energy and other energy-saving projects.”
UEL will participate in the project by granting a 15-year rooftop lease to WGL Holdings, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based utility that is funding the $3 million project. Once the lease is up, UEL will assume ownership of the project, whose components, said Pasi from IPS, have an expected life of 25 years or more.
The UEL project has been more than seven years in the making, starting out with a conversation between UEL’s building manager, LaSalle Group, about a significantly smaller installation—40 solar panels—that eventually evolved into the much larger installation soon to be unveiled.
“We have long had an interest in alternative energy, but we also knew we needed to replace the roof on the facility,” said Greg LaSalle, UEL’s building manager for the LaSalle Group. “Once that project was complete, we were able to look again at the idea, and by then much had changed, and lower solar panel costs combined with the new Energy Innovation Corridor made the idea of a larger installation more feasible.”
The project is the latest in a series of improvements to the UEL facility. In addition to a new $265,000 roof, these have included the recent addition of 14,000 square feet of new dry lab space, retrofitted, energy-efficient lighting and new heating and air conditioning equipment, and a newly repaved parking lot.
“This project fulfills a key component of UEL’s overall mission,” said Todd Taylor, chairman of the all-volunteer UEL board of directors. “Our goal has always been to provide laboratory and other highly-specialized scientific space for early-stage companies. This new solar installation is the latest in a long line of improvements meant to keep our facility relevant, cost-effective and convenient for our tenants”.
Based in St. Paul, MN, University Enterprise Laboratories, Inc. is a cost-effective collaborative research center that provides laboratory and office space to early-stage bioscience companies. UEL is home to more than 30 early-stage bioscience companies and other organizations and was founded in July, 2005 to create an entrepreneurial community focused on assuring the commercial success of early-stage bioscience companies. www.uelmn.org
Innovative Power Systems
Business Development Director
Office: (651) 789-5305 – x101
Cell: (651) 494-4330
University Enterprise Laboratories