Solar incentive programs serving even more Minnesotans
The Minnesota Department of Commerce just announced their 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Incentive Program lottery results. This year the program will support 679 new projects and 10.23 MW of capacity—that’s a lot! Minnesota Power’s SolarSense Program also expanded this year.
A random selection of applicants for the 2017 Made in Minnesota Solar PV Production-Based Incentive Program was completed on March 22, and 679 new residential and commercial solar electric (PV) systems were chosen to receive funding in the fourth year of the 10-year program. The random selection process was conducted by a third-party vendor.
Applicants to the 2017 PV incentive program will be notified by the Minnesota Department of Commerce through email; a posting by Made in Minnesota application number is available on the Made in Minnesota Program Updates & News webpage. The numbers highlighted in red have been selected for funding, those in black are wait listed. The list is displayed by utility and by residential and commercial applications.
The 679 new projects in 2017 is a 73% increase over the 393 projects funded in 2016. The combined capacity of the planned systems represents about 10.23 megawatts (MW) of new small scale solar electric energy for homes and businesses in Minnesota, a nearly 80% (or 4.53 MW) increase from the 2016 total of 5.7 MW.
Incentives for solar PV are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Owners of an approved and installed PV system will receive payments annually by July 1 based on the kWh output of the system in the previous calendar year.
Funding for the new projects is awarded based on the amount each participating utility contributes to the program. Projects by utility and total kWs of capacity are listed below:
Total projects funded = 679
Total kW funded = 10,225.25
Incentives for Solar in Minnesota
The Made in Minnesota Solar program is not alone in its support of projects. Below are other incentives available to Minnesotans looking to go solar!
State Solar Programs:
- Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Production Incentive
- Fix-Up Loan
- Value-Added Stock Loan Participation Program
- Solar Energy Sales Tax Exemption
Utility Solar Incentives:
- Austin Utilities – Solar Rebate Program
- Brainerd Public Utilities – Renewable Incentives Program
- Marshall Municipal Utilities – Solar Thermal Water Heater Rebate Program
- Minnesota Power – Solar-Electric (PV) Rebate Program
- Minnesota Power – Solar-Thermal Water Heating Rebate Program
- Moorhead Public Service Utility – Renewable Energy Incentive
- New Ulm Public Utilities – Solar Electric Rebate Program
- Otter Tail Power Company – Publicly Owned Property Solar Program
- Owatonna Public Utilities – Solar Rebate Program
- Rochester Public Utilities – Solar Rebate Program
- Shakopee Public Utilities – Residential Solar Electric Rebate
- Xcel Energy – Solar*Rewards Program, Residential
- Xcel Energy – Solar*Rewards Program, Business
Utility Grant Programs:
- Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric – The Sunna Project
- Xcel Energy – Renewable Development Fund Grants
Federal Funding and Incentives:
- USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program
- Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
- Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit
- Other federal programs and incentives
Offerings from the Clean Energy Resource Teams
Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business: Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business is a series of factsheets designed to help you determine if a solar electric system will work for you. Topics include site assessment, sizing, costs, installation, and more.
Clean Energy Project Builder: This online directory features companies serving the Upper Midwest’s solar industry. Find solar installers and manufacturers, explore available community solar gardens, and browse solar installations near you.
MN Solar App: Wondering if a particular site in Minnesota is good for solar energy? The MN Solar App can help. You start by entering an address and clicking on a location, then you can see an overview and full report of solar potential with more tools to move forward.
Community Solar Gardens: Perhaps you live in an apartment, have a shaded roof at home, or don’t have space at your organization. You might be able to subscribe to a centrally-located Community Solar Gardens and get credit on your electric bill.
Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota: Solar, wind, and biomass are plentiful sources of clean energy in Minnesota, and we’re here to help farmers and rural small businesses get projects done. CERTs offers tools to pursuing renewable energy projects.
Commercial PACE Financing: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners with costs repaid through property tax assessments.
Planning Your Solar Project
Energy Efficiency First
Before adding solar energy production, limit your need for additional energy by making your farm or business as energy efficient as possible. All of our utilities have incentives for efficiency improvements, so be sure to ask your utility. You can also check out the CERTs resource page for energy efficiency to learn more.
Understand what sort of system is right for you. Solar technologies come in differing models. Any one of these technologies might be right for you depending on your energy use and the solar resource available at your site:
- A photovoltaic (PV) system offsets electric energy use
- A solar thermal hot water system reduces demand for fuels needed to heat water
- A solar thermal air heat system lowers demand for fuels needed to heat buildings
Dig Deeper: You can learn more about solar using our guide, Solar for the Home, Farm, and Business, a series of factsheets designed to help you determine if a solar system will work for you.
Consider your sun exposure, budget, and roof life and structure.
- It is important to consider the solar resource at your site. You can get a sense for the solar resource at your site using the Minnesota Solar Suitability App. A solar site assessor can help you decide which technologies are the best fit. Assessments will provide insight on the solar resource and potential structural issues. Clean Energy Project Builder provides a directory of solar installers who can provide this information.
- If you don’t have a good solar resource on your roof or property and you’d still like to use solar, you should consider subscribing to a community solar garden if one is available to you. Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. Xcel Energy customers can participate in projects offered by private developers. Members of other utilities in Minnesota can subscribe to a community solar garden if one is offered by the utility. Click here to learn more. If your utility does not offer community solar, they might have a separate green pricing program that allows you to sign up for renewable energy—ask them to learn more.
- It’s important to check in with your local city/county about ordinances that might be in place that would impact your solar project. Some require setbacks or structural assessments, for instance. Your solar installer should have a good handle on this process, but it’s worth knowing in advance.
- Installers should be able to provide a good cost estimate for a project you’re considering, and incentives can make solar more affordable. A federal tax credit can cover up to 30% of the project cost, and utilities often have incentives, too. You should also consider the Made in Minnesota Solar Program if interested in using locally-made products. Check DSIRE for more utility and other incentives.
Compare bids from several solar contractors. You can use the Clean Energy Project Builder online directory, to help you search for solar installers. That website also provides a useful set of questions that you can ask companies. TIP: Most contractors will charge you a fee for coming out to do a site assessment, but then subtract that amount from your contract if you select them. Sometimes you can get site assessments for free or reduced costs in the winter.
Select a contractor, sign a contract, and install your system TIP: It usually takes from two weeks to two months from the time you sign an agreement to the time a project is completed, depending on the type of solar technology and the incentive process. If installing PV, your contractor will facilitate an interconnection agreement with your electric utility that will allow you to track your production and get paid for excess production with net metering.
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