While some utilities are cutting back on solar and particularly rooftop solar power, others are making it easier to go solar. Case in point, Minnesota Power recently filed a plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to triple the amount of money available for rooftop solar installations.
The utility filed to expand its SolarSense program to approximately $1 million annually for the next three years, which it said will triple the amount of rebate money for rooftop solar installations for homes and businesses. The utility said a typical 5 kilowatt rooftop solar array could receive roughly $6,000 in rebates, cutting its costs by about 30 percent. Coupled with the federal investment tax credit of 30 percent, that effectively cuts the cost of a solar array by about 60 percent. The utility said solar arrays can qualify for rebates of up to $20,000.
“Our customers’ interest in solar energy continues to grow and there are multiple ways we are seeking to respond to this trend based on individual customer preferences,” said Tina Koecher, manager of customer solutions for Minnesota Power. “Expanding the SolarSense program, for example, will allow us to provide additional incentives and expertise to people who have homes or businesses in locations with plenty of sun and want to produce solar energy on site.”
The SolarSense program also is funding the utility’s solar education and outreach, research and development, program development and delivery, and the creation of a new solar pilot program for low-income customers. Minnesota Power has also submitted a proposal to the commission for its first community solar garden for customers can’t otherwise go solar.
The utility also filed with the commission with its Power of One Conservation Improvement Program covering energy efficiency improvements. “Minnesota Power’s Conservation Improvement Program has a proven track record, surpassing the state’s 1.5 percent energy-savings goal since 2010,” Koecher said. “We intend to build on what’s been successful while also drawing on experience and best practices in the industry to make the program even more responsive to customers.”
The utility is working to source its electric generation from renewables, coal and natural gas in equal amounts. In some instances in Minnesota renewable energy has already been judged as a better deal than new natural gas plants, so that could change. Currently renewables provide more of its electricity than natural gas, too.Tweet