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Connexus Squanders $31 Million on Solar Plus 2 Hours of Battery Storage

According to the Star Tribune, Connexus Energy is building two electricity “storage” systems — solar-panel arrays connected to big batteries. Each battery can store up to two hours of power, allowing Connexus to inject renewable energy into the grid on command.

The project will cost $31 million and marks the first commercial-battery deployment in the state. Connexus claims falling battery storage prices have made solar plus storage a viable alternative, but relative to natural gas generation, the costs of solar plus storage are enormous.

The Connexus project consists of two solar gardens, one each in Ramsey and Isanti County’s Athens Township. Together, they have 10 megawatts of production capacity. Each solar garden will have its own battery system with a combined 15 megawatts of storage. This means the Connexus project will cost roughly $1.25 million per megawatt of installed capacity for just two hours of electricity storage.

Remember, there are 24 hours in a day.

In contrast, the natural gas power plant that will be built in Sherburne County will cost roughly $1.07 million per megawatt of installed capacity, but unlike the solar plus storage option, this power plant  will be able to generate electricity 24/7, 365 days per year.

Furthermore, the true cost of the Connexus project is hidden because the battery project will receive a 30 percent federal tax because the electricity generated for the batteries will come from solar power.

Cheerleaders of solar plus storage have hailed this a victory for our state, but in reality, it’s another expensive boondoggle for Minnesota families and businesses who will still rely on the grid for the vast majority of their electricity. Adding solar plus storage is just an expensive ornament on the grid that serves as a vanity project for people who fancy themselves to be “green.”

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