by Mike Knaak
From street level, the newest addition to downtown St. Joseph isn’t visible. But a climb to the top of Millstream Shops & Lofts reveals the roof filled with a new installation of solar panels.
The solar equipment was installed in the last month and should be in operation in the next few weeks once Xcel Energy tests and inspects the installation, said Ryan Prosser of All Energy Solar.
The panels will provide electricity for the building’s common areas, parking lot and some office space, according to building co-owner Jon Petters.
“We needed to do it for the environment,” Petters said. “My partner, Gustavo Pena, and I are strong believers in solar energy.”
Planning for the project began about a year ago and included contracts with Xcel and filing for federal tax credits. Petters said he believes it’s the first commercial solar installation in the city.
In December, All Energy Solar installed the gear. One array is 760 square feet and the other is 878 square feet. Once connected to the grid, any excess energy produced, for example on sunny summer days, will result in a credit from Xcel, Prosser said.
“Ten years ago, the argument against solar was that it was too expensive. That’s not so today,” Petters said.
Prosser said All Energy Solar has been in business about 11 years and in 2019 installed more than 1,100 units.
This spring, Petters plans to install solar on the 24 North Lofts building next door. That equipment will power exterior lighting and a bakery planned for the rear of the building.
Millstream Shops & Lofts was built 11 years ago. The 24 North building went up in late 2018.