Camp Ripley, a 53,000-acre National Guard training site in central Minnesota, is poised to become a net zero energy installation after a $25 million solar array under construction is completed.
The 63-acre array, which is about 75 percent complete, will be the largest solar project at a National Guard base, reported the Grand Forks Herald. The array is being built by Minnesota Power and will allow Camp Ripley to disconnect from the commercial grid if necessary. As a result, the installation has been designated as the secondary site for Minnesota’s state government to operate from in the event a terrorist attack or other disaster wipes out the Capitol and government buildings in St. Paul.
Energy generated by the array’s 120,000 panels will go to Camp Ripley as well as surrounding communities.
The project represents only one of a number of green initiatives at the camp. Geothermal wells power the new Education Building, and base officials are planning a biomass heating district to burn wood. Later, a microgrid will be built to allow the camp to efficiently deploy its various energy sources. The base’s sustainability push extends to minimizing waste as well, with leaders encouraging recycling and conservation among individual soldiers and units.
Marty Skoglund, Camp Ripley’s environmental supervisor, said collaborating with Minnesota Power is “a partnership made in heaven” that had helped garner national attention for environmental initiatives in the state. “It’s put Minnesota on the map,” he said.