Energy Integration Resiliency Framework

The Joint Development Authority (JDA) approved an Energy Integration Resiliency Framework in April 2015. The forward-looking proposal sets a vision to create the largest net-zero energy redevelopment in the state, outlining plans for an on-site 40-acre solar installation and all-electric residential neighborhoods designed to deliver long-term energy cost savings.

Solar installation

A proposed 40-acre solar installation (an area larger than 30 football fields) would generate 8 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power all commercial and residential developments at Rice Creek Commons. Estimates show the installation has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7,500 tons annually, roughly the amount produced by 1,432 cars each year. Federal tax credits that help offset the cost of the solar installation are available through 2016.

All-electric neighborhoods

The groundwork for net-zero energy neighborhoods would be made possible by energy generated from ongoing water treatment at the Rice Creek Commons site. Instead of a traditional HVAC system, homes would be heated and cooled by thermal energy captured from groundwater that is pumped through an on-site treatment process. This energy would be enough to meet the needs of residential developments at Rice Creek Commons.

Partnerships

A key component of Ramsey County’s vision for energy use at the site is pursuing a strategic partnership with the Minnesota Army National Guard, which owns and operates the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS) adjacent to Rice Creek Commons. The Minnesota Army National Guard’s master plan for AHATS includes net-zero goals for energy, water and waste, creating an opportunity for collaboration with Rice Creek Commons.

Additionally the Energy Resiliency Advisory Board has been working closely with Xcel Energy throughout the formation of the framework. Xcel is committed to working with the Joint Development Authority as a strategic partner on several energy strategies outlined in the framework.

Next steps

Ramsey County plans to pursue public-private partnerships to finance potential projects outlined in the framework. An RFP for the solar installation is expected to be released in the near future, with tentative plans for construction to be completed in 2016 and development at Rice Creek Commons powered by the installation the following year.