This project has been selected as a winner in the Energy & Climate category:

City of hutchinson landfill solar pv 

Project Summary

The City of Hutchinson has maintained a long commitment to sustainability and has implemented this solar project in an effort to further enhance their sustainability program.  The City wanted to launch the first Minnesota landfill cap mounted solar PV installation.  The utilization of contaminated property for renewable energy production, treatment of wastewater using this clean power, and zero waste generated during project construction are all examples of environmental project benefits that have been demonstrated and can now be replicated by others.  

Ameresco was contracted for the design, procurement, construction, installation, and maintenance of a solar energy facility at the City's landfill site.  The solar energy system contains a total of 975 panels that are Made In Minnesota and include the use of reflectors on the opposite side of the racking from the PV modules to optimize production.  The 400 kW system is Minnesota's first landfill cap mounted solar PV installation.  There are no penetrations into the underlying landfill wastes.  The system supplies up to 15% of the power needs of the City's Wastewater Treatment Plant located adjacent to the solar installation.

The total project cost was $1.57M.  An Xcel Energy Grant of $958,360 helped to reduce the project cost.  The electrical energy produced by the solar panels provides enough dollar savings such that the project is guaranteed to pay for itself in less than 18 years, and with an estimated life of over 30 years; the City will receive all the financial benefits in future years. 

Project Website


Project Partners

  • Ameresco: project developer
  • Hutchinson Utilities Commission: local electric utility for the City
  • City of Hutchinson: project owner
  • McLeod County Solid Waste: local recycling firm
  • Hunt Electric: project Contractor & equipment installer
  • tenKsolar: project solar panel supplier (MN manufacturer)
  • Xcel Energy: provided a solar project grant for this project

How did the project partners work together?

Ameresco had partnered with the City of Hutchinson several years ago and successfully completed an Energy Services Performance Contract for upgrading all City buildings to high efficiency lighting. As lead developer of this solar project, Ameresco brought in several Minnesota partners including:

  • City of Hutchinson was the site owner and coordinated environmental and regulatory requirements for inclusion into Ameresco’s design efforts.  The City owned Creekside Composting Facility also processed the pallets generated from the shipping crates.
  • tenKsolar, Inc. as the Minnesota-based manufacturer of solar PV panels which includes tenKsolar’s partnership with 3M (who has a tape manufacturing plant in Hutchinson)
  • Hunt Electric was the electrical subcontractor for the solar installation based on Hunt’s electrical experience with Ameresco’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport solar PV project
  • Xcel Energy – Provided an RDF grant of $958,360 to the City for this project.  Project funding provided, in part, by customers of Xcel Energy through a grant from the Renewable Development Fund
  • Hutchinson Utilities Commission was the local utility which provided for the electrical interconnection of the solar system to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • McLeod County Solid Waste was responsible for processing recyclable materials generated from the project. 

How is the project groundbreaking?

The project is unique because the system is a non-ground penetrating installation on a closed landfill.  The project is also considered a unique brownfield redevelopment for MN.  The location of the landfill and now fully functioning PV array is adjacent to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.  This allowed for a cost effective direct connection into the facilities’ main transformer, for full use of all of the output of the solar energy system.  The solar PV system supplies up to 15% of the power requirements of the treatment plant.

This project is the first solar PV system installed on a City’/s closed landfill in MN.  It is a unique use of unusable land for the generation of sustainable energy via a solar energy production system.   The project ribbon cutting event was well attended by the City Council; Mayor; City utility officials; Xcel Energy management; project construction staff; local, County and State officials; local press; and many interested townspeople.  

What are the project goals?

The main goal of the project was to construct the first-ever Solar PV power plant in Minnesota on a closed landfill.  The Brownfield sat vacant and undeveloped for 25 years and now produces renewable energy.  This project made excellent use of unusable land.  This project will be used as a model for future solar PV development on closed landfills and brownfields, throughout the State of Minnesota.  The project was self-funding over an 18-year term, has an estimated 30-year life expectancy, and will generate free energy for the City for many years. 

What are the project outcomes?

The project outcome was successful.  The development and construction team worked diligently, efficiently and safely to install a renewable energy facility on unusable land.  A primary outcome of the project was to demonstrate a cost effective model of solar PV development on what would typically be considered unusable property.  The project has already generated interest from a variety of entities considering redeveloping both brownfields and landfills with solar PV.  The project team also worked with McLeod County Recycling Center to recycle all cardboard, plastic wrap, and shipping banding.  All shipping pallets were recycled at the City’s Creekside Composting facility.  The project was completed without a solid waste dumpster! 

Through the City of Hutchinson’s partnership with Ameresco, the City saves the equivalent of 1.4 million pounds of CO2 per year.  The green benefit from this carbon reduction is roughly equal to about 133 vehicles taken off the road each year.


Event Details

Thursday, May 25, 2017
5:00 - 5:45 p.m. Registration & reception
5:45 - 8:00 p.m. Dinner & program
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Dessert & reception 

Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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Presenting Sponsors

Environmental Lay Group

Great River Energy

Reception sponsor

25th Anniversary Sponsors


Community Action

Critical Collaborator

Stoel Rives LLP

Emerging Leader


Energy and Climate

The Weidt Group

Natural Resources

Sustainable Business

Supporting Sponsors

Minnesota Power

partner SPONSORs

In-kind sponsors


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Consulate General of Canada

Rochester Public Utilities

Associate Sponsors

Bremer Bank
G & K Services
Nova Consulting
Smith Partners