New legislature proposed for Minnesota could see a number of changes implemented with regard to its solar program. In particular, there are multiple proposed changes to Minnesota’s very successful community solar program outlined in the bill - HF 2208. All in all, there are six solar-related changes noted throughout, so let’s take a quick look at each one and see what is proposed.
#1. Special Skill
Falling under the article Labor and Industry Policy, it’s required that solar panel installers be licensed as both electricians and residential contractors.
#2. Solar For Schools Program
On to the Energy Programs article now, HF 2208 seeks the implementation of grants which will allow for greater access to affordable school solar installations outside the territories of large Minnesota utilities provider Xcel Energy. These grants will lower the barrier to entry in terms of cost for these schools and may factor in energy storage systems also. Grant amounts will be determined by assessment of each school’s financial needs.
#3. Solar Energy Incentive Program
This proposal and #4 - #6 in this article all fall under Article 29 - Clean Energy and Enery Conservation. Firstly, the extension of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Program for an extra year, along with an increase in program spending over the course of its last three years.
#4. Community Solar Garden
A few different pieces of information brought up here. First, the increase of maximum solar garden capacity from one to three megawatts. The loosening of subscriber county location requirements, dependant on capacity afforded to residential subscribers (ten percent) and minimum setback from residential properties (one hundred feet). Certification that all solar garden construction is carried by workers paid the prevailing wage. Establishment of “community access project” wherein fifty percent capacity subscribed by residential subscribers is paid the retail rate by its utility for the power generated.
#5. Solar Garden Grant Program For Low-Income Households
A solar garden grant program, entirely composed of residential subscribers whose household incomes are below the state median or 200 percent of federal poverty level. Capacity and management conditions would also be in place for this grant program, which could cover up to sixty percent of the solar garden’s cost.
#6. Solar For Schools (Specific Utility Service Territories)
Back to school again, this time for the establishment of a solar schools program within the service territory of Xcel Energy, who would assist with solar panel installation for the schools.
By Shane Croghan
Featured Image Source: MN Administration on Flickr