A shot of the ground mounted solar array installed by IPS at Eichten’s Hidden Acres.
Growing Trust with Landowners
Eichten’s Hidden Acres is an award winning cheese and buffalo ranch in Center City, Minnesota bordering Taylors Falls on the St. Croix River. The ranch has been family owned and operated since 1976, and is committed to energy efficiency and healthy farming. In 2011, Ed Eichten, the owner of Eichten’s Hidden Acres met with Eric Pasi, the Chief Development Officer of IPS. Ed wanted to learn more about investing in solar not only with the ranch in mind, but for the benefit of future generations.
“I’ve always been very conscious of burning fossil fuels. I’m from a large family and have a lot of nieces and nephews, so it’s for that, and it’s just for humanity. It doesn’t make sense to keep polluting the atmosphere.” – Ed Eichten
At the time of Ed and Eric’s conversation, IPS didn’t have a large presence in rural Minnesota and large ground-mounted projects weren’t common. Thankfully, Ed’s enthusiasm for solar led to a 40 kW project that would be completed the following year, and to the start of a long and prosperous relationship with IPS.
A few years later, Minnesota’s Community Solar Program was in its infancy and IPS was searching for landowners that were interested in leasing their land for a solar garden. These gardens would allow people in the local community without ideal roof conditions or finances to benefit from solar. Since the program was brand new and there wasn’t a history of successful projects to refer to, many landowners were skeptical.
Ed felt as though his original system had already paid for itself, and once again thought it would be a good idea; not just for his own benefit, but for his community and the environment! Ed leased a portion of his land for the solar garden to IPS and construction began. Soon after, the 5 MW project was completed, giving a home to more than 15,000 solar panels to power the ranch and its surrounding community.
Ed Eichten touring the newly commissioned IPS community solar garden shorty after construction.
“This was the first project we did in the area so they had a lot of questions to answer and we always got the answers we needed.” – Ed Eichten
Ed’s trust in IPS and the success of his project were instrumental in establishing IPS as a trustworthy company for landowners across the state. His early commitment and subsequent solar advocacy provided solar energy access to his community and opened the doors for over 50 (and counting) solar gardens.