The completion of Minnesota Power's first solar power plant has been delayed after Wednesday night's severe storm caused substantial damage to the nearly completed solar array at the National Guard's Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn.
Initial assessments indicated 25 percent of the 97 rows of solar panels sustained damage including twisted and broken racks that hold the panels in place, broken solar panels, and damaged wiring. The solar panels were crushed by a large storage container and other debris blown by high winds.
The last solar panels were scheduled to be installed today, Thursday September 8.
When complete, the $25 million project will be the largest solar power plant on any National Guard base in the nation, covering an area the size of 62 football fields. The array was designed to withstand 105 mph winds and is tested to withstand the impact of golf ball sized hail.
Construction of the solar array began in May at the National Guard's 53,000-acre regional training facility, which also sustained damage in the storm.
Despite the delay, Al Hodnik, president, chairman, and CEO of ALLETE said the company will complete its original vision for a 10-megawatt solar power plant that will create enough electricity to power 1,700 homes per year. The project is now scheduled to be complete by Spring 2017.