Baker Village, 280 kW

Baker- top image

Renewable Energy in Baker Village

When constructed in the summer of 2012, Luther's solar photovoltaic (PV) array was the largest in Iowa. The 280 kilowatt (kW) facility is installed on the north edge of campus and powers Baker Village—an energy-efficient, all-electric student housing complex that utilizes geothermal energy for heating and cooling. The village consists of four townhouse-style buildings that accommodate 112 senior students as well as the Shirley Baker Commons building.

In conjunction with the 20 kW system installed near Shirley Baker Commons, this 280 kW array was designed to generate all of the power Baker Village consumes over the course of a typical year. When the array produces more power than the house consumes, the surplus electricity powers homes and business on the west side of Decorah. Luther receives full retail credit for this surplus power through Iowa’s net metering rule.

System Information

  • 280 kW (DC) ground-mounted PV array.
  • Commissioned August 24, 2012 and dedicated October 27, 2012.
  • Designed by Dragonfly Solar.
  • 1,250 panels each rated at 225 watts manufactured by SolarWorldUSA.
  • Inverter manufactured by Solectria Renewables.
  • Six rows of panels 265 feet long, set at a 30º angle, and oriented due south.
  • Occupies two acres of land north of Pole Line Road and west of College Drive.
  • Dedicated, half-mile underground transmission line to Baker Village.
  • Average annual production: 355,000 kWh.
  • Current and historical electricity generation data available.

Financial Information

  • Total installed cost: $1.2 million.
  • Leased for seven years from Decorah Solar Field, LLC, which is owned by a local Decorah resident, Larry Grimstad.
  • Luther’s lease payments are funded by avoided electricity purchases, donations to Luther earmarked for renewable energy, and the sale of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) to the Winneshiek Energy District, which resells the SRECs to Decorah Bank & Trust to reduce the bank’s carbon footprint.
  • After the lease period ends and Luther acquires ownership of the facility, Luther will pay less for electricity over the 25-year-rated life of the panels than it would to purchase electricity from the grid to power Baker Village.

Environmental Impact

  • Baker Village is the largest facility in Iowa that is heated, cooled, and powered entirely by energy from the sun and the earth.
  • The ~355,000 kWh generated each year by the system avoid the release of approximately 250 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Additional Information

  • The City of Decorah Board of Adjustment granted Luther College’s request for a special permit to construct the solar field in January 2012.
  • Decorah’s Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the site plan in February 2012 and recommended approval of the project to Decorah City Council, which offered its unanimous support later that month.
  • Alliant Energy conducted various studies regarding the impact of the project on the local electrical grid and issued an interconnection agreement to Luther College in April 2012.

Learn more about Baker Village's Solar Production Data.

Ribbon cutting of 280kW solar field
Solar Array Installation
Larry Grimstad