Hugo gets its first community solar garden

HUGO — The city is getting its first solar farm. 

A solar farm on 165th Street N., west of Henna Avenue, will see the light of day after getting City Council approval Oct. 1.

FastSun LLC Solar plans to lease a 30-acre site owned by Henry and Linda Gregoire, of Aitkin, and use 5 acres for a 1 megawatt array of panels. The farm will generate enough power for 165 homes. 

The applicant requested approval of an interim use permit months ago and finally got the go ahead after several public hearings and council meetings. 

Conditions were added to reduce impact to surrounding properties after neighbors voiced opposition to the project. Among revisions are more frequent reviews of the permit, according to City Planner Rachel Juba. Also, all trees shall be at least 8 feet tall when planted to screen the area. Landscaping shall be set back at least 30 feet from the west and east property line and a landscape maintenance plan shall be reviewed each year for the first two after installation and every five years following. The solar farm shall be adequately screened from public right of way and adjacent properties. The city will hold an escrow account for decommissioning when the time comes. Residents also requested a black-coated chain link fence around the solar panel area, which was added to the conditions. 

The garden will generate electricity that will be purchased by Xcel Energy for 25 years. FastSun CEO Dean Leischow noted in a letter to council that the solar garden will help Xcel meet the state’s mandate for use of renewable energy sources and will align with the city’s goals for sustainability. Xcel customers can subscribe to a share of the electrical output from the project. 


Debra Neutkens