Government Fleet Top News

Minneapolis Hopes Solar Panels Will Power Future City Vehicle Fleet

December 26, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS – A solar-power project that aims to be the largest of its kind in the upper Midwest might someday provide fuel for a fleet of plug-in hybrid vehicles in Minneapolis, according to the Web site

The city has been selected for a $2 million grant to help buy about 3,000 solar panels for the roof of its Currie Maintenance Facility just west of downtown. The panels would generate up to 600 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power at least 80 homes.

Instead of homes, though, city officials hope to use the solar panels to power a portion of its vehicle fleet. So far the city has only one plug-in hybrid, which Mayor R.T. Rybak began driving this fall. It’s a Prius that plugs in and charges like a cell phone when it’s not in use.

“I think they’re correctly envisioning what the future is going to look like, and they’re building one of the first tangible examples,” said Travis Bradford, president of Prometheus Institute, a renewable energy think tank based in Massachusetts, when told about the city’s solar-plug-in ambitions, as quoted on

The Currie building contains a repair shop, truck wash, and fueling station for the city’s vehicle fleet.

The solar panels are part of a push to cut greenhouse emissions from city vehicles back closer to what they were in those horse-and-buggy days. The city has 28 hybrids in its fleet, all of which it said could be converted to plug-ins. It has 134 flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E-85 ethanol blend gasoline, and it also uses a car-sharing service called HOURCAR.

Last year the city spent $40,000 installing two dozen solar panels on top of the Currie building. They went online in May 2006 and generate about 4.2 kilowatts of electricity under ideal conditions. If the city is successful in adding the new solar panels, the system will be by far the largest solar project in the state. Minnesota’s largest solar arrays are 40-kilowatt systems at both Pellco Machine in St. Michael and Quality Bicycle Parts in Bloomington. A 72-kilowatt system is in the works at Great River Energy in Maple Grove.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission still needs to approve the grant, which would come from the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund. The Legislature created the fund in 1999. A fee on customers’ electricity bills goes into the fund to pay for renewable energy projects and research.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Fleet Management And Leasing

Jack Firriolo from Merchants will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon Connect will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Fuel Management

Bernie Kanavagh from WEX will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Recent Topics

I am requesting feedback on how often you replace street sweepers? Also, when you surplus the old sweeper, what has brought you the...

View Topic

How many different types of antifreeze do you stock? I’m curious to know what others are doing to deal with the numerous specifications...

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1117 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

A specialized form of leasing wherein some or all fleet costs are estimated in advance, then budgeted and billed by the fleet management company with periodic invoices (usually monthly).

Read more