Cokato Solar


Cokato, MN







City Engineering

Land Development

Natural Resources



Water Resources

WSB is partnering with Signal Energy, a construction and procurement company for renewable energy projects, to create a community solar garden on a retired farmstead in the city of Cokato, MN. The project required a range of survey services along with environmental and civil design services to ensure solar arrays were placed properly. Faced with some unique challenges, we continue to partner to create a renewable energy source on the project site.

We provided an environmental feasibility study for conditional use permit application, civil design including site grading and access roads and a hydrology study and analysis. Site grading is an important design step because solar arrays must be placed in a specific orientation and at a maximum slope. This was especially important because the project site was an abandoned farmstead that contained features that could cause unwanted and long-lasting problems that affect other resources. Buried debris from old building foundations was also found on the site, which had to be analyzed, quantified and then permitted for removal.

Though small in acreage, the project site presented several complications. There were water wells on the property that had to be abandoned. Wells that are left in place or improperly abandoned can be a liability and require special care to be properly sealed if there is a potential that groundwater on the site may be or become contaminated. A hydrology study and analysis identified the best mitigation strategies for stormwater management on the site. This included working with wetland protection regulators to determine where to place solar panels, sometimes being placed in degraded wetland areas to protect other high-value wetlands. Out of concern for waterfowl that may confuse the panels for water, a special high-visibility border was placed around each solar panel to break the field of panels up. Additionally, the security fence around the site was designed to allow small animals and reptiles that enter the site to safely leave the site.

The project also required a review for cultural, archaeological and protected species resources management. Looking to stimulate the area’s bee population, low growth pollinators were planted to cover disturbed pieces of land on the project site.

Set to be operational within the next 6 months, the Cokato Solar project will provide solar energy to residents while also supporting the area’s bee population.

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