Solar installer giant, SolarCity, is branching out from residential and commercial solar installations into community solar gardens. The company partnered with Sunrise Energy Ventures to makes its first foray into community solar in Minnesota with a series of 1 megawatt solar arrays in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
"In Minnesota, anyone with an Xcel account can access the Solar Community Garden program, whether or not their home or school is optimal for solar or they live in a rental unit, condominium or low-income housing complex," said Dean Leischow, CEO of Sunrise Energy Ventures. "We chose SolarCity as a partner because of its solid track record of residential service and its commitment to help Minnesota rate payers utilize clean power at a savings."
The community solar garden model allows people and businesses to buy into a solar power project and reap the benefits of solar power directly without having to install solar on their home or business. SolarCity said it will allow renters, low-income housing residents, schools, municipalities and other Xcel Energy customers to go solar.
Subscribers to the solar gardens will purchase the power produced by their share of the power produced at a rate of 13 cents per kilowatt hour. Under it’s Minnesota Solar*Rewards program Xcel Energy will credit subscribers 14.7 cents per kilowatt hour produced, a premium of 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour produced. SolarCity said it will result in an 11.5 percent savings rate.
Minnesota recently enacted some of the strongest community solar legislation in the U.S. and the new deal with SolarCity and Sunrise Ventures is among the first announced community solar garden project pipelines announced under the program. "The State of Minnesota and its Public Utilities Commission have made a significant contribution to the proliferation of solar power by passing solar garden legislation," said Jesse Jones, SolarCity's vice president of development and acquisitions. "They've also made it possible for subscribers to have an involvement with locally-generated clean power, rather than a credit for or certificate representing solar kilowatts generated far, far away."
SolarCity said it will develop, operate and own the gardens. It will start offering Minnesota residents shares in the solar farms by the end of 2015. The majority of kilowatts installed in each project will be allocated for residents, specifically 600,000 apartment renters in the state.Tweet