In recent years the state of Minnesota has set itself apart as a nationwide leader in the burgeoning field of community solar. Now, with the announcement that two new community solar projects, totalling 8.2 MW (megawatts), have been commissioned and are live, this position has been further consolidated. These new projects will further enable Minnesota residents to avail of the benefits of community solar moving forward.
Overall, the Minnesota community solar program reached 532 MW of operational capacity in April of 2019. Minnesotan utilities company Xcel Energy offers bill credits as part of the community solar program and it shared data in February 2019 showing that these bill credits totalled over $2.2 million, for 17.3 million kilowatt hours. On top of this, community solar also offers protection against volatile utility rates for non-renewables and greater, fairer renewable energy accessibility across the board. Growth in the Minnesota community solar sector looks set to continue as well, with the project queue at 900 MW around December of 2018 - though this project queue is liable to frequent change of course.
Xcel shared further data concerning Minnesotan community solar which shows a breakdown of those subscribers saving money with community solar, as well as breakdown of who is served by what percentage of the operational capacity. It’s clear that community solar is benefitting residential, commercial, and municipal properties.
Minnesota’s community solar program is often cited as the best in the United States and there are a few key reasons for this. Above all, the huge volume of projects in the queue, as mentioned above, really places Minnesota as the frontrunner in this area. In addition, the program is very comprehensive, allowing for economically viable projects without a cap on the development of these projects. This uncapped nature has been a key factor in the growth of community solar in Minnesota. The infographic below, courtesy of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ISLR) does an excellent job of covering this comprehensive approach.
By Shane Croghan