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3 days ago

People and Pollinators Action Network

Solar farms of photovoltaic panels are becoming a more common sight in our landscapes, part of the push toward renewable energy that has an important role to play in combating climate change. The land around these arrays offers additional possibilities, including an opportunity to create pollinator meadows rich in native wildflowers.

The issue is being discussed at the 2018 Pollinator Summit, being held today at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minn. Sarah Foltz Jordan, senior pollinator conservation specialist with Xerces, is part of a panel discussing the value of pollinator habitat in solar sites. During the panel session, it was announced that Xcel Energy will use its Request for Proposals process for new solar locations to require disclosure of information about the vegetation on the proposed sites. Each solar project in Xcel’s RFP process will have to include a completed copy of the Pollinator-Friendly Solar scorecard developed by the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources in collaboration with the Xerces Society. This is significant because it can result in hundreds, maybe thousands, of acres of long-term habitat, protected from pesticides.

As Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society, noted: “Pollinators are in decline, and wildflower plantings on solar farms can help provide the nutrition and habitat that bees and butterflies need, if established with a wide diversity of native plants. Xcel Energy’s decision to include the Pollinator-Friendly Solar scorecard in solar project bidding is a smart move that will help promote high-quality pollinator habitat growing under and around the panels on solar farms.”

If you want to know more about the scorecard, visit www.bwsr.state.mn.us/practices/pollinator/project_planning_assessment_form.pdf

(Photos: Native flowering plants and monarchs at solar sites in Minnesota / Rob Davis)
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