Case Studies Benton Communications:  Rice, MN

Benton Communications:  Solar Power Makes Business and Environmental Sense 

Incorporated in 1952, Benton Communications started as a local phone company serving central Minnesota.  As a cooperative, this long standing company is owned by members and provides phone, cable television and internet to over 4,500 customers.

Cheryl Scapanski has been General Manager at Benton for the past 22 years.  “We have a small staff and run a tight ship. One day my office manager heard an ad on the radio for solar power.  Once we did some research, we called All Energy Solar,” she said.

Scapanski said solar was attractive because the investment will provide savings to their operation for decades; it was a smart plan to save costs now and in the future.  “We also liked the idea of the solar panels working for over 25 years at upwards of 80 percent efficiency.”

“We consume quite a bit of energy and like the idea of becoming self-sufficient,” said Scapanski.  “And we also feel good about doing our part for the environment.”

After Scapanski made a presentation about the solar energy option to the board of directors, All Energy Solar met with the company to set up the project.  The solar installation was a turnkey operation, utilizing open land immediately south of Benton’s main facilities and communications towers to install multiple broad rows of ground mounted solar panels.

“We are located off Highway 10 in rural Minnesota, and we get a lot of calls about the solar panels.  They attract some attention! It’s been interesting to raise awareness of solar,” said Scapanski.

Benton is looking toward many more years of successful communications business, predominantly powered by solar.  “We chose solar for the good of the company, to save money, and to do our part for the environment,” said Scapanski.  “We would definitely choose to do it again.”

Project Specifications

  • System Size: 294 kW DC
  • Panel Type: (816) 360-watt JA Solar
  • Inverter Type: (6) SMA Core-1 Inverters
  • Mounting Equipment: Fixed-Tilt Ground Mount
  • Monitoring: SMA Portal


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