Solar Project Live at Many Rivers Montessori!

Many Rivers Montessori in Duluth, Minnesota, is thrilled to have its new solar array up and running! The 64 panel, rooftop ballasted system (20kW) was mounted on the front roof of the school’s new building in the Woodland neighborhood over the fall. The building was renovated over the summer to accommodate the school’s growing student population, ranging from 16 months old to 8th Grade.

Initially, Many Rivers Montessori reached out to MNIPL’s Bret Pence, who helped the school bring together the resources needed to complete the work. Financing for the $83,000 array was made possible through a combination of a grant from Minnesota Power Solar Sense, a federal investment tax credit (ITC) and a 10-year lease-back agreement with iDEAL Energies, the project developer.

“MNIPL helped us bring the right players and funding sources together to ensure the success of our project,” said Mark Niedermier, Head of School at Many Rivers Montessori. “Bret was with us every step of the way.”

MNIPL was excited for the opportunity to provide assistance to Many Rivers Montessori (MRM), both in terms of providing general solar information as well as referring them to a solar installer that would both fit their needs and is a member of the Minnesota Just Solar Coalition. As a result, MRM is saving money and cleaning up the environment through solar, all while advancing equity by supporting those installers that commit to social justice values.

Since the panels went live in mid-September, the power produced has resulted in 3,075 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, the equivalent of planting 77 trees. A late-December storm covered the panels with snow, but the school looks forward to an uptick in energy production in the spring, when they will also start to enjoy a reduction in their monthly electric bill. The system has an extremely low profile, but can be glimpsed from a vantage point along Red Wing Street.

Minnesota Power’s SolarSense grants continue to be available to retail customers installing grid-tied solar systems–including residential, commercial and industrial–on a first-come, first-served basis. Minnesota Power began accepting applications for 2019 on January 7, with a total budget of $701,395.

The federal 30% ITC is one of the most important incentives available for promoting solar photovoltaic systems. The ITC is available at 30% through December 2019, then decreases to 26% through December 2020. and to 22% through December 2021, after which time it will expire unless extended by Congress. If you’re interested in a solar array, consider taking action in 2019 for significant savings through the ITC. MNIPL can help!  

MNIPL is currently co-sponsoring a 2019 solar group buy in Duluth, along with REAL Solar and Ecolibrium3, to drive down the cost of solar installations in Greater MN while supporting organizations committed to their customers, their local community, and social justice. For more information on the 2019 Duluth Solar Group Buy, MNIPL’s involvement in solar, or the Minnesota Just Solar Coalition, visit the MNIPL website or contact Bret Pence, MNIPL Greater Minnesota Director, at