Friday, May 22, 2009

Can solar power complement St. Paul LRT?

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Denver-based Xcel Energy, a U.S alternate energy company, wants to install solar panels along St. Paul’s planned Central Corridor light rail line to demonstrate solar energy’s usefulness to both the rail mode and the surrounding community,

Xcel CEO Richard Kelly made the company’s concept public while addressing an annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in St. Paul’s Brooklyn Center.  "You'll see it; we'll be bringing it up here pretty soon," Kelly said.

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For the Central Corridor, Xcel's concept is to mount solar panels on catenary poles along a portion of the University Avenue route, which would serve as charging stations for plug-in electric hybrid vehicles parked onthe street, according to David Sparby, president of Xcel's Northern States Power Co. Sparby said the concept could be applied to other existing and planned LRT systems in North America.

Xcel’s current role as a solar energy provider is limited to Colorado, and the company has more experience in providing wind-powered energy, including within Minnesota.

The 11-mile Central Corridor light rail line will link downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis, joining the existing Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis near Downtown East/Metrodome Station.