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Going Solar Electric: A Cook County Guide

CCLEP received a Solar Initiative grant from the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation to create Going Solar Electric: A Cook County Guide to help Cook County landowners understand and determine what kind of solar PV system works best for them. 

The guide is for sale for $15 plus $3.54 shipping. Contact to order your copy. Copies are also available at the Grand Marais Library and the Grand Portage Community Center.

The Federal tax credit of 30% on solar installations has been extended to December 31, 2019. Now is the time to plan and invest in a solar system.

Two great on-line sources to find more information about renewable power initiatives and financial assistance specifically for Minnesota homes and businesses are: Made in Minnesota Solar Incentives and Minnesota State Incentives for Renewable Energy

There are also great opportunities for area businesses who want to add solar electric power. Low-interest loans are available through the MPCA: Small Business Environmental Loan Program or PACE: MinnPACE

A New Solar Tool! If you would like to calculate your solar payback or compare bids to install solar the CCLEP Solar Payback Calculator can help. Contact to schedule a time to meet, and discover what the best option is for your home or business.

Solar Installation Survey! If you own a solar PV system in Cook                                                                  County, please click the link to fill out the Solar Survey. This will help us track and identify the growing number of renewable energy users in Cook County.

Solar Energy in Cook County

Believe it or not, northern Minnesota has a pretty good solar resource; good enough to make solar systems economical. The quality of the resource is seasonal - Cook County has plenty of sun in July and August (as much as Southern Florida) but less-than ideal sun in November and December (but still as much as Cincinnati).

We can get energy directly from the sun in two basic ways:

  • by making it into electricity withphotovoltaic (PV) panels;
  • through a process called solar thermal whereby the sun's energy directly heats a liquid to make hot water or to heat a building.

Once installed, solar energy is carbon-free and renewable. Also, because it lends itself to small-scale, locally-owned systems, its use could lead to a new local energy industry, creating local jobs and keeping local capital at work in our communities.

Solar PV

PV is a carbon-neutral means of electrical generation that can be either stand alone or grid connected. In grid connected applications the PV system is attached to the National Electrical Grid. When the PV system is generating more power than needed, electricity is sold to the grid. When the PV system is generating less power than needed, the grid supplies the balance. Stand alone PV applications are independent of the grid and usually include energy storage (e.g. batteries) and back-up energy generation (e.g. a gasoline-fired generator) for non-sunny periods (e.g. nighttime and November/December)

See Going Solar: A Cook County Guide

See Solar Flow Chart


  • Install a PV system at the Gunflint Hills Golf Course to demonstrate the system efficacy
  • Encourage installation of PV systems on homes, businesses and public buildings
  • Provide information about available financial incentives
  • Install a community solar farm.

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal uses dark surfaces located outside of a building to convert sunlight energy into heat energy. An antifreeze/water mixture is used to collect the heat and transport it into the building. The heat can be used to produce hot water, heat the residence and heat pools or spas.


  • Install a solar thermal system on a bathhouse at the Grand Marais Rec Park to provide hot water for the bathhouse and to demonstrate system efficacy
  • Encourage installation of PV systems on homes, businesses and public buildings
  • Provide information about available financial incentives

For further information, contact Don Grant;

Showing 7 items
Going Solar A Cook County Guide.pdf July 14, 2015 2mb 
Gunflint Hills Golf Course Solar Panel Installation April 6, 2013 n/a 
Rec Park Bathhouse SHW 2012 Annual Report.pdf May 30, 2013 49kb 
Rec Park SHW system - final CERTs report.pdf May 30, 2013 851kb 
RV Park SHW 2012 Annual Report.pdf June 12, 2013 49kb 
solar flow chart web.pdf July 14, 2015 426kb 
Solar Rec Park Bath House April 10, 2013 n/a 
Showing 7 items