WTR35 Renewable Energy at Water Treatment Campuses

Project Details:

Project Start Date: 1/1/2020

Ongoing Program: N

Submitting Department: Public Works - Water

Contact Person: Dale Folen

Level of Need: Significant

Estimated Project Completion Date: 12/31/2030

Department Priority: 8

Contact Phone Number: 612-661-4908


Project Location:

Address: Fridley and Columbia Heights Campuses

City Sector: City-wide

Affected Neighborhoods: City-wide

Affected Wards: All

Project Description:

This project will design and install a variety of projects developing renewable energy sources to supply power to the water treatment and pumping systems in the Water Division. The first project, already under way, will construct a photovoltaic solar energy system at the Columbia Heights campus. Future projects will evaluate more power generation at the Columbia Heights campus and generation of power on the Water campus in Fridley. Work will also consider opportunities to develop wind or small-scale hydroelectric sources.

Purpose and Justification:

The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey adopted goals on April 27, 2018 for Minneapolis to move to 100% renewable electricity for municipal facilities and operations by 2022 and citywide by 2030. These goals serve as a strategy to meet the City’s aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate change goals by moving away from fossil fuels.

The Minneapolis Division of Water Treatment & Distribution Services uses 8 to 9 Million kWh of electricity per year to treat and distribute (pump) water from its Columbia Heights campus. An additional 30 to 40 Million kWh per year are used by facilities on its Fridley campus. In order to meet the adopted goals for the City, renewable energy must be integrated into the energy portfolio of the treatment and pumping infrastructure.

The initial funding will be for construction and start up of a photovoltaic solar array on available land at the Columbia Heights campus, which is planned for construction in 2021. This project is also working through defining best methods to coordinate on-site generation with the operational capabilities of the power utility.

Ongoing work will continue to evaluate and plan feasible locations for additional solar installations as well as consideration of wind and hydropower energy recovery. The Fridley campus also has land area that could potentially allow installation of power generation systems. Projects on the Fridley campus will wait until partial completion of the ongoing Electrical Service Rehabilitation program (WTR31).

Project Cost Breakdown

Department Funding Request


Have Grants for this Project been secured?


Describe status and timing details of secured or applied for grants or other non-City funding sources:

All funding for this project is planned to come from Water enterprise revenue and bond funds.

Describe any collaborative arrangements with outside project partners, including who they are and what their role is with the project:

Work on this project will be performed in conjunction with Xcel Energy in regards to electrical rate impacts and electrical distribution infrastructure investment, if needed.


State Law Chapter 462.356 (Subd. 2) requires review of all capital improvements for compliance with the comprehensive municipal plan. Chapter 13, Section 4 of the City Charter requires Location and Design Review for the purpose of approving the sale of bonds for these projects. Describe how the project is consistent with the adopted City/Park Board comprehensive plans and how the project implements goals and policies as stated in the adopted plans, including specific policy references:

The project complies with The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (the City’s comprehensive plan) through the following specific references:

Public Services and Facilities: Through sound management and strategic investments, Minneapolis will maintain and develop public services and facilities that promote health, safety and an enhanced quality of life for all members of this growing community.

Policy 5.4: Enhance the safety, appearance, and effectiveness of the city’s infrastructure.

• 5.4.1 Maintain and improve the quality and condition of public streets, sidewalks, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure.

• 5.4.2 Plan for and provide public facilities which anticipate growth needs, use fiscal resources efficiently, and meet realistic timelines.

• 5.4.3 Prioritize capital improvements according to an objective set of criteria consistent with adopted goals and policies, including those of The Minneapolis Plan.

Environment: Minneapolis will promote sustainable design practices in the preservation, development, and maintenance of its natural and built environments, provide equal access to all of the city’s resources and natural amenities, and support the local and regional economy without compromising the needs of future generations.

Policy 6.9: Be a steward of clean water by protecting and enhancing its surface and groundwater systems.

• 6.9.1 Continue to invest in maintaining excellent water quality for consumption, and ensure delivery of safe drinking water to customers.

• 6.9.5 Support pollution prevention programs as an important first step in maintaining a healthy physical environment.

Provide the date that Location and Design Review was conducted for the project, the outcome of that analysis and the date formal action was taken by the Planning Commission:

Reviews with the Planning Commission will be a future task.

Economic Development

Will the project contribute to growth in the city’s tax base?

No impact on existing tax base

Describe the economic development impact of the project:

Not applicable.

Does the project support redevelopment opportunity that without the project would be infeasible?

Not applicable.


Is the proposed project on an existing or planned transitway, transit route, or high-volume pedestrian corridor? If yes, provide details on how the project will improve the transit and/or pedestrian experience.

Not applicable.

Does the proposed project anticipate multi-modal enhancements (sidewalks, bicycle or transit facilities)? Provide details.

Not applicable.

Is the right-of-way constrained and do you anticipate that modes of travel will be competing for space? Provide details, is there potential for innovative design options? Provide details

Not applicable.

YOperating Impacts

Operations & Capital Asset Maintenance:

Is this request for new or existing infrastructure? New

What is the expected useful life of the project/Improvement? 20 years

Year that Operating Incr/(Decr) will take effect?

What is the estimated annual operating cost increase or (decrease) for this project? Decrease, TBD

Any Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations? Yes

Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations: $1,740,000

Describe how operating cost increases or decreases were determined and include details such as personnel costs, materials, contracts, energy savings, etc:

Operating costs will decrease through reduced quantity of electricity purchased from Xcel Energy. Actual cost estimates are being developed in consideration of the change in electrical billing rates that may occur due to changes in amount of electricity included in peak controlled rate agreements. Currently Minneapolis Water pays discounted electrical rates because of our ability and agreement to use a set, pre-determined amount of electrical use during high-demand periods. As an example, the first solar project is initially predicted to reduce electricity charges between $65,000 and $100,000 per year, pending on a series of variables (weather, water demand, etc.).

The additional labor and materials cost of maintaining the solar array will be offset by reductions in electrical costs.

If new infrastructure, discuss how the department/agency will pay for the increased annual operating costs:

Annual operating costs are expected to decrease. Additional maintenance costs are expected to be off set by electrical cost savings.

For new infrastructure, describe the estimated timing and dollar amount of future capital investment required to realize the full expected useful life of the project:

Life Cycle costs (incorporating capital costs, electrical cost savings, and maintenance cost increases) will be evaluated for all alternatives and impacts to the Water enterprise fund operating budget and long-term pro forma will be evaluated and transparently communicated to Public Works and Finance Departments and the City Council.

Project Coordination

Describe completion status for ongoing projects and how and when the department/agency plans to use the prior year remaining bond authorizations:

2020: Select provider and design solar array at Columbia Heights campus.

2021: Construct solar array at Columbia Heights Campus

2022: Evaluation of additional sites for solar or wind installations on campus lands and buildings.

2024: Design of solar array on Fridley campus

2025 and beyond: Construct solar array at Fridley and develop additional opportunities.

Prior year bond authorizations will be used for the construction of the solar array in 2021.

If this is a new project, describe the major project phases and timing anticipated for completing the project:

Not applicable.

Scalability/Funding Allocation Flexibility – discuss any flexibility to increase or decrease funding among the years in the five-year plan and the most that could be spent in a given year:

Significant flexibility is possible. The entire program will be a series of sub-projects.

Minneapolis Goals and Strategic Direction

Minneapolis is a growing and vibrant world-class city with a flourishing economy and a pristine environment, where all people are safe, healthy and have equitable opportunities for success and happiness.Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals. Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals. Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals. Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Public Safety

Collaborative and community-inclusive strategies to ensure safety for all members of our community:


The City prioritizes equitable access to safe, stable, accessible, and affordable housing to eliminate racial disparities in housing:

Economic Development

The City prioritizes economic inclusion so that all workers and families are supported and People of Color, Indigenous and Immigrant (POCII)-owned businesses in all sectors can thrive.

Public Services

The City prioritizes reliable and equitable access to high-quality public services.

Environmental Justice:

The City prioritizes sustainable practices and renewable resources to equitably address climate change while restoring and protecting our soil, water and air.

Using renewable energy sources for drinking water treatment and distribution.

Built Environment & Transportation:

The City prioritizes high quality neighborhoods, streets, infrastructure and equitable access to multimodal transportation in all parts of the City through thoughtful planning and design.

Public Health:

The City Prioritizes positive youth development so that all children can grow healthy and safe:

Arts and Culture:

The City prioritizes arts and culture as important part of inclusive economic development and placemaking in our communities:

Additional Information

Add any additional information you feel is important for the CLIC committee, Mayor, City Council members or the general public to know about this potential project and why it should be approved: