Minnesota wants more solar products to be made in the state and it’s putting its money where its mouth is with a locally-made incentive program that’s already helping almost 1,100 solar systems across the state. Now it’s re-opening applications for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program from Jan.1 to Feb. 28, 2017, as part of a larger effort to increase the northern state’s small-scale solar power capacity by about 65 megawatts.
In the past few years, Minnesota has taken numerous actions to increase solar power in the state. For instance, in 2014 it approved the US’s first ‘value of solar’ tariff, requiring utilities to pay for the full value of solar power—including its social, economic and environmental values—that’s put back on the grid by rooftop and small solar power installations. It’s an alternative to net-metering that could result in higher reimbursement rates for rooftop solar power than conventional net-metering.
It’s the third year for the lottery program, which launched in 2013. Each year the state, through the Minnesota Commerce Department, is investing $15 million into solar systems—both photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal—to encourage homeowners and businesses as well as installers and developers to use locally made products in their solar systems. The majority of the funding supports PV systems but includes $250,000 annually for solar thermal.
“The Made in Minnesota program is helping drive growth in the state’s rooftop solar market,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The program is boosting Minnesota’s clean energy economy by making solar more affordable, creating more clean energy jobs and diversifying the state’s energy resources.”
Under the incentive program, PV solar installations receive a performance-based incentive for the first 10 years of a solar system’s production. For solar thermal installations, it offers a one-time rebate covering up to 25 percent of a system’s cost. However, to eligible for the incentives, applicants must be customers of either Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power or Otter Tail Power.
Those utilities are also making other efforts to quickly ramp up solar power production in the state. Earlier this year Xcel Energy announced it would purchase power from a 100-megawatt solar farm installed in the state. Likewise, Minnesota Power announced it was seeking proposals for 300 megawatts each of wind and solar power.
Since launching the incentive program has begun providing incentives for 1,048 solar electric projects and 36 solar thermal installations, the state noted. Together they produce roughly 15 megawatts of power for their various end-users.
At three years in and 15 megawatts supported, the incentive program is about a quarter of the way to reaching the state’s 10-year goal of 65 megawatts of solar power. The investor-owned electric utilities participating in the program are required to obtain 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020 and have a longer-term goal of sourcing 10 percent of their energy from renewables by 2030.
Learn more about applying for the program here: https://mn.gov/commerce/industries/energy/solar/mim/Tweet