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University of Minnesota Extension

Economic impact of a proposed solar energy development project in Freeborn County, Minnesota

Key findings

Solar power grids


  • Direct impact: Arevon and project partners plan to invest $128.8 million in the solar development project. Direct spending in Freeborn County is estimated to be $15.6 million. Project organizers plan to utilize 204 employees on-site and pay $7.9 million in wages, salaries and benefits to complete the work.

  • Total impact: The development project will generate an estimated $30.9 million in economic activity during construction. This includes $13.6 million in labor income. In addition to the direct jobs, the project will support an additional 115 jobs in industries such as real estate, health care, and professional services.

  • Tax impact: The project will generate an estimated $461,870 in state and local taxes.

Operations and Maintenance

  • Direct impact: Arevon anticipates spending $2.2 million annually on operations and maintenance. Operations and maintenance costs include payments to the landowners, site maintenance, and equipment repairs and parts. The company plans on hiring four employees at the site.

  • Total impact: Operations and maintenance of the solar project will generate an estimated $3.3 million in economic activity in the county per year. This includes $703,530 in labor income impacts. The project will support 14 jobs, four on-site and 10 in other industries across the county.
  • Tax impact: The project will annually generate an estimated $99,040 in state and local taxes.
  • These impacts will be annual, as long as the project operates at projected levels. Industries experiencing the largest economic benefit include real estate, construction, and hospitals.

About this report

During the past decade, Minnesota’s electricity portfolio has changed significantly. Electricity derived from coal has fallen, and there have been rapid increases in production from natural gas and renewable energy. A variety of factors are driving this change. Among them are Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard and decreased costs of renewable energy production.

Minnesota’s power companies are increasingly investing in renewable energy development projects. One such company is Arevon. An independent global private asset management firm with a renewable energy portfolio, Arevon is proposing a large-scale solar project in Freeborn County.

Arevon is partnering with on-the-ground developer Tenaska to develop the project. The proposed renewable energy project will be 150 megawatts (MW). To develop the project, Arevon will invest $128 million in construction. Construction is scheduled to start in 2022 and operations in 2023.

As the project advances, the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency was interested in understanding the economic impact of the project in both Freeborn County and Minnesota. Thus, University of Minnesota Extension conducted an economic impact analysis.

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Author: Brigid Tuck, senior economic impact analyst

Reviewed in 2021

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