Community solar in Minnesota
Minnesotans across the state have the opportunity to “go solar” by enrolling in a community solar program with their utility or a private developer, through Xcel Energy’s program. Currently 26 utilities offer community solar programs.
The program most in the news in recent years has been Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community. Through this program, private developers have built an extraordinary number of community solar gardens (CSGs) throughout the state. As of January 2018, there are 246 MW of CSGs producing electricity in Xcel Energy’s program. These CSGs represented about 35% of all solar electricity produced in the state. There are another 600 MW working through the application and development process, which is more than 10 times the total amount of community solar that has been built nationally.
Community solar programs in Minnesota vary by utility and developer. For example, in the Wright-Hennepin Electric Cooperative’s program, customers purchase the physical solar PV panels and individually own them. These customers receive bill credits from Wright-Hennepin for their panels’ electricity production. Under Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program, customers typically enter long-term contracts with private developers for a share of a CSG, but they are only buying the rights to the bill credits, not the panels themselves. Xcel Energy customers pay a monthly fee to the private CSG developer for the electricity produced by their share of the CSG. At the same time, these customers also receive bill credits from Xcel Energy for the electricity produced by their share of the CSG.
What is community solar?
Community solar makes it possible for everyone to go solar.
With community solar, you can purchase or lease a “share” in a community solar project or start a project with your neighbors. Every month, you receive a credit on your electricity bill for the energy produced by your share. (Prefer to watch a video? Check out Episode 1, Community Solar Basics: Consumers)
- Shopping for Community Solar – Solar United Neighbors’ guide helps you get started
- YouTube video series by Solar United Neighbors – 3-part educational series on community solar
- Thinking about community solar? 10 questions you should ask – Developed by the Minnesota Commerce Department, this guide provides consumer-focused information.
- Farmer’s Guide to Solar and Wind Energy in Minnesota – resource for farmers considering lease land for solar
- Minnesota’s value of solar: Can a northern state’s new solar policy defuse distributed generation battles? – This report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance explores the concept of “Value of Solar”.
- Clean Energy Resources Teams – This page provides an in-depth explanation of how community solar works in Minnesota.