Rosemount oil refinery turns on largest solar installation of its kind

Flint Hills Resources recently completed a $75 million solar panel installation at its Pine Bend oil refinery, which is believed to be a first-of-its-kind project nationwide.

The Rosemount refinery is one of Minnesota's largest fuel producers, and it's now believed to be home to the largest self-consuming solar farm in the state.

"We’re always wanting to innovate and get better at what we do and how we do it, and solar is just the latest iteration of that," said Jake Reint, vice president of public affairs for Flint Hills Resources.

The project cost $75 million and took a year to build. Reint says at its peak, it will account for nearly 30% of the refinery’s power.

Logan O’Grady from the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association says the investment not only reduces emissions but also reduces the company’s reliance on the energy grid.

"I look at this as a no-brainer," said O’Grady. "They can cut their demand on the system at key points within the day and then cut their utility bills."

O’Grady says many in the industry are watching this project closely, as he anticipates more manufacturers jumping into solar.

"We know we’re going to be around for a long time," said Reint. "Solar is a really promising, interesting step that makes us different right now, but we have to constantly get better every day."

Flint Hills solar farm in Rosemount covers 350 acres adjacent to the oil refinery. It will create enough energy to power the equivalent of 8,400 homes.

In addition, Flint Hills plans to plant native pollinator-friendly plants between the rows of solar panels.