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Solar farm construction postponed until 2022

Vienna Township landowners get letters that project on 720 acres is delayed
Mavis Fodness

Construction of the first commercial solar farm in Rock County won’t start until next year.
Letters were sent to landowners in Vienna Township indicating National Grid Renewables won’t start construction on the 80-megawatt solar energy facility on 720 acres north of Magnolia in 2021 as planned.
Lindsay Smith is a spokesperson for National Grid Renewables, which acquired Geronimo Energy, developers of the Elk Creek I Solar Farm, in 2020.
“We remain optimistic for Elk Creek Solar and continue to work with landowners, community members and local officials,” she indicated in an email. “We are hopeful to be able to start construction sometime in 2022.”
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a site permit and a certificate of need in late 2020 for the project to move forward.
Smith indicated that while construction on the first half of the $290 million project has been postponed, work continues with Rock County officials on a development agreement and a vegetation management plan.
Smith and others working on the project didn’t offer a reason as to why construction is delayed.
According to the permit issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the permit is valid for 30 years.
At the administrative hearing in October 2020, officials with National Grid Renewables targeted late 2021 to bring the first of two solar energy farms online. Construction for Elk Creek I was to begin as early as fourth quarter 2020.
During the initial permitting process, developers split the solar farm into two parts.
Original plans had both sites being constructed simultaneously until last year when, during the permitting process, the project was split into two parts.
Elk Creek II consists of 980 acres still planned for sections 33, 34 and 35 in Vienna Township and Section 3 in Magnolia Township.
This project will need to complete the state permitting and certificate of need process before moving forward. No specific timeline has been released to the public.
If completed, the Elk Creek Solar Farm would be the largest single-location project in Minnesota and would employ 10 full-time

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