New community solar option for six Minnesota towns

By Virginia Rutter on December 15, 2017

Residents of Blue Earth, Granite Falls, Janesville, Kasson, Kenyon and Sleepy Eye now have a community solar option. This is being provided through a partnership between Central Municipal Power Community Services (CMPCS) and local municipal utilities. The R4 solar program (pdf), as it is known, will enable residents and businesses to support solar within their community, particularly when they are unable to install solar directly upon their property.

Each city will construct its own solar array within the city limits. The municipal utilities will own and operate these systems. Residents interested in participating in the program subscribe to the R4 Power program for a fixed annual rate of $42.50 per solar panel. Each panel is estimated to produce approximately 500 kWh per year. This represents about 6% of the typical Minnesota annual electricity usage. Community members can subscribe to up to 100% of their electricity usage, or 18 panels for the average Minnesotan.

Subscribers will then receive a utility bill credit for the electricity produced by their subscription panels, at a fluctuating wholesale rate. In 2016, the average annual wholesale electricity rate was $0.06 / kWh, or approximately $30 per subscription panel. This program therefore currently represents an increase in electricity costs for subscribers of about $12.50 per subscription panel per year. If the average market price for the electricity produced by the community solar increases to $0.10 / kWh, each subscription panel would save the subscriber approximately $7.50 per year.

Interested residents can sign up by contacting their municipality directly.