Community Solar Blog Posts

Share:


Translate:
Subscribe to digest
Photos from the 2018 CERTs Conference
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:54pm
Over 500 Minnesotans attended the seventh statewide CERTs Conference, connecting to build a clean energy future in their communities! March 28-29 were two truly energizing days in St. Cloud, MN for the 2018 CERTs Conference. Communities, organizations, and individuals showed up to figure out how they can get projects done, save money, and be part of Minnesota’s fastest growing jobs sector. See photos from the event:   Conference presentations available for download   The 2018 CERTs Conference featured 80 speakers who shared their experience and expertise. Their presentations are now available so you can see what you...
Seven communities won 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 04/03/2018 - 2:15pm
Seven Minnesota communities are recipients of the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The awards were presented March 28, 2018 at the CERTs Community Driven Clean Energy Conference in St. Cloud. This year’s awards honor community-organized clean energy initiatives in the Town of Crystal Bay, City of Edina, Hennepin County, Minnesota State University Mankato, City of Red Wing, City of Warren, and Sustain Winona. These communities are contributing to the state’s clean energy goals with programs, policies and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation. “Minnesota has ambitious clean energy goals and the objective of our Clean Energy Community Awards is to acknowledge the great work of...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Thu, 02/01/2018 - 4:55pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in our seven regions! Each region awarded around $20,000, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded more than $1 million to over 300 projects since 2006. Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs Seed Grants page. Download a PDF with all projects   |   Download a Press Release   |   Share on Facebook and Twitter...
Map of Xcel Energy’s hosting capacity analysis
Laura Hannah
Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:38am
This blog is being re-posted with permission from the original by Laura Hannah at Fresh Energy. It’s here! The highly anticipated second iteration of Xcel Energy’s hosting capacity analysis has been published. The tool provides public transparency into the results of 1,047 feeder models analyzing the ability of the grid to host distributed energy resources (like a community solar garden) without adversely impacting power quality or reliability. This user-friendly tool tells us where new energy systems can be connect to the grid most efficiently. A (much) better mouse trap: This year’s version is accompanied by a map! The image at the top of the post is a snapshot of Xcel’s twin cities service territory. The...
UMN’s new Main Energy Plant helps reduce campus emissions by 50 percent
Joel Haskard
Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:41pm
“We’ve pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from operations to zero as fast as possible,” said Shane Stennes, the university’s sustainability director. The University has been exploring renewable energy opportunities to meet their goals. In its 2011 Climate Action Plan, the University set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2020 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The University of Minnesota is taking a comprehensive approach to meeting their goals with renewable energy. In a recent presentation, Shane Stennes talked about community solar, on-site solar (details below), Renewable*Connect from Xcel Energy,...
Kim Norton from Rochester
Chris Meyer
Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:06pm
Kim Norton is currently a member of the Rochester, MN Rochester Energy Commission. Kim and her husband Randy have recently subscribed to the Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) Solar Choice community solar garden to reduce their use of fossil fuels while powering their electric vehicles. Chris Meyer with CERTs asked Kim to share her experience signing up to RPU’s community solar garden. RPU Solar Choice is made available through the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, which has contracted to buy electricity from a 5 megawatt solar PV garden near Owatonna, MN. The solar array is powering several other Solar Choice programs for SMMPA member utilities (such as Austin Utilities SolarChoice). The RPU Solar Choice program is accepting subscriptions through the end of December 2017....
Award recipients from the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:46pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced the opening of the application process for the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards (CECA) to recognize the good work of Minnesota communities in helping achieve the state’s clean energy goals. Commerce is the sponsor and coordinator of the program, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. Applications and award information are available, and applications will be accepted until February 12, 2018. The awards will recognize communities that implement planning, programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation and will be given in two categories, Achievement and Planning. This is the second year the awards have been given, and you can...
Community solar garden from above | Credit: Metropolitan Council
Trevor Drake
Mon, 11/20/2017 - 4:31pm
Since its launch in 2014, Xcel Energy’s community solar garden program in Minnesota has driven a growing conversation about solar energy options and opportunities, especially among local government staff and elected officials. Local governments are sought after as solar garden subscribers for their large and often stable electric loads, excellent credit scores, and interest in opportunities to reduce energy costs and meet public goals on clean energy. However, local governments are also thoughtful about conducting due diligence around new opportunities like community solar. While solar garden proposals tend to be relatively low-risk, they are almost always 20-25 year contracts. The exact terms and pricing of these contracts can vary significantly among different developers, and require time and attention to compare proposals and make decisions. At the...
Tour participants gathered for a big group photo in front of Detroit Lake’s Community Solar Garden
Maggie Kozak
Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:27pm
On October 3rd, over 30 people joined a clean energy tour in Detroit Lakes hosted by Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), and Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT). Community Solar Ribbon Cutting: Tour participants boarded a charter bus (kindly provided by Missouri River Energy Services!) and set off to see the Ribbon Cutting of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities’ Community Solar installation. Red ribbon and scissors in hand, folks from the Chamber of Commerce, local officials, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities Commission, Senator Kent Eken, and Josh Mason of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities cut the ribbon and made an official welcome. As folks gathered around to learn about the system, Vernell Roberts of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities explained, “We wanted the solar panels to be in a visible spot...
In 2016 there were 57,351 clean energy jobs in MN
Dan Thiede
Thu, 09/07/2017 - 2:49pm
Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) today released a new report called Clean Jobs Midwest from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs that finds that Minnesota now has 57,351 total clean energy jobs. In the last 12 months, Minnesota’s clean energy industry grew by 5.3 percent, adding 2,893 jobs—3.8 times faster than overall job growth in the state. Despite the rapid growth that has already occurred, clean energy technology continues to present a significant opportunity for business and job growth. “This report tells the story of how Minnesota’s rapid transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy is driving job creation all across our state,” said Gregg Mast, executive director of...
Screenshot from LPTV news segment on Leech Lake community solar gardens
Anna Carlson
Wed, 08/16/2017 - 12:01pm
“This is the first 100% low-income shared solar array in the state of Minnesota, and the first low-income community solar array integrated into energy assistance (LIHEAP) in the nation!” notes Jason Edens with Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, the solar developer for the five Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe solar installations. “With 42% of the Leech Lake Nation living below the poverty level, this solar facility will help ensure low-income families have the resources to reduce their energy costs. It is the first community solar array in Indian Country in the nation.” Below are excerpts from a Bemidji Pioneer article and...
SolSmart
Trevor Drake
Tue, 08/15/2017 - 2:22pm
Almost every time we give a community presentation on solar, somebody asks about how the costs of the technology are changing and whether it’s best to wait to “go solar.” It’s a smart question, and indeed the costs of the physical components of solar projects are being driven down by market forces (though arguably not quick enough to warrant waiting). The trouble with this question is that it misses the target in seeing what’s most important, which is not just the cost of hardware but the final cost of an installed system. The non-hardware “soft costs” of solar, which include the costs incurred to solar developers (and passed onto system owners or subscribers) for navigating local zoning regulations, pulling permits, and providing financing options to customers, can total as much as 64% of the cost of a residential solar installation, according to the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 06/01/2017 - 3:24pm
On a bright, sunny Minnesota spring day, with solar panels in the background, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that the state is enjoying dramatic growth in solar power, adding nearly as much new solar capacity in just the first three months of 2017 as in all of 2016. Rothman announced the latest solar statistics at the Schneiderman’s Furniture store in Plymouth, a Twin Cities suburb. The local family-owned furniture retailer has installed rooftop solar power systems at its Plymouth, Woodbury and Duluth stores, with support from state solar incentives. The solar projects were developed by Ideal Energies, a Minnesota-based commercial solar energy developer with over 140 commercial systems in operation. “Solar is already a bright spot in Minnesota’s energy picture, and it’s getting even bigger and brighter,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy...
Project partners pose for an award photo
Trevor Drake
Fri, 05/26/2017 - 10:51am
The Metropolitan Council, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), and their partners are being awarded for their innovative solar garden work at the 25th Anniversary Environmental Initiative Awards. The awards program, hosted by the nonprofit Environmental Initiative, annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary outcomes by harnessing the power of partnership. The project is being honored in the Community Action category. The Governmental Solar Garden Collaborative is a joint effort by and for 31 local governments in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region to procure solar garden subscriptions from a single Request...
Mayor Peter Lindstrom shows off solar panels atop Falcon Heights City Hall
Trevor Drake
Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:30am
Community solar programs are gaining increasing interest from electric utility customers across the nation. Unlike individual solar PV systems, community shared solar systems, also known as Solar Gardens, create an opportunity for multiple individuals and organizations to receive the benefit of a larger solar installation without requiring it to be located on-site. For local government entities, these benefits include supporting clean energy and its positive local economic impacts, saving on energy bills for public facilities, and hedging against the future price volatility of electricity. A new report released by the Clean Energy Resource Teams, a partnership of organizations working with communities on clean energy projects in Minnesota, highlights the unique ability for community...
North Star Solar project
Diana McKeown
Thu, 02/23/2017 - 9:47am
This article is an excerpt of a recent story from the Chisago County Press. There is a solar boom happening in Minnesota, and with the 100 MW North Star Solar project now complete, it’s booming the most in Chisago County, which estimates that about $350,000 in tax revenue will be created by solar projects in the county. The leasing of the land has also put money in farmers’ pockets where soils were not considered to be premium quality. As Chisago County Environmental Services and Zoning Director Kurt Schneider put it, “We are experiencing the planting of a new crop.” County officials recently shared Chisago County’s experience with solar at a conference of Minnesota counties...
Chris Meyer
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:30am
This is an excerpt from a recent story by Mark Fischenich in the Mankato Free Press. The city of Mankato will reduce its future electrical bills by $1.9 million through subscriptions to solar energy projects in the area, boosting the savings by more than 50 percent from its initial agreement last summer. The subscriptions mean nearly all of the power going to the city’s 10 biggest municipal consumers — ranging from the street lighting system to the civic center to the sewage treatment plant — will be supplied by Xcel Energy at a discounted rate. That figure could grow if more community solar gardens are developed in Blue Earth County or adjacent counties, said Public Works Director Jeff Johnson. “Right now, we’re at 92 percent,...
Dan Thiede
Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:55am
This excerpt is from a recent article by Nick Williams in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. A year-long project to connect ten public housing high-rises in Saint Paul to a community solar garden is nearly complete. When complete, the St. Paul Public Housing Agency will become the first public housing organization in the U.S. to completely offset electrical consumption with solar energy, according to St. Paul housing officials. “We blazed the trail,” said Louise Seeba, general counsel for the organization. Subscribing to the solar energy garden will save the PHA $130,000 per year, and $3 million over the length of a 25-year contract with Edina-based Geronimo Energy. To learn more,...
Fritz Ebinger
Wed, 01/25/2017 - 1:44pm
According to a recent article by Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio, “It took about 10 years to go from virtually nothing to 35 megawatts of capacity in 2015, but last year that jumped to 250 megawatts.” Click here to listen to the full story >> More and more cities, counties, businesses, and homeowners are finding that solar makes sense for their bottom line. The technology has never been more accessible to Minnesotans, and we’ll continue to explore the models and tools that will allow solar installations—and in turn jobs—to continue to grow. If you’re ready to learn more about solar and take action, check out the...
Community Solar Garden
Joel Haskard
Fri, 01/20/2017 - 3:33pm
Although still in the early stages of planning, there is an exciting model brewing to help residents of the Hillcrest Community Cooperative in Clarks Grove, MN reduce their energy costs and power their manufactured homes with community solar. We spoke first with Timothy DenHerder Thomas, the General Manager of Cooperative Energy Futures, to learn more, and then with Kevin Walker, Director of Business Development with the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. Why is this partnership meaningful to you?   Timothy DenHerder Thomas: As a co-op that exists to help everyone build community wealth through clean energy, CEF is excited to work with Northcounty Cooperative Foundation (NCF) to help residents of manufactured housing co-ops grow community-powered energy. NCF is...
Getting to 80% renewables in St. Cloud, MN
Joel Haskard
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 12:15pm
St. Cloud is one of eight communities in Minnesota recently recognized at the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The awards recognized communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by planning and implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. We spoke with Patrick Shea, St. Cloud’s Public Services Director, to learn more. There seem to be a lot of exciting clean energy projects happening in St. Cloud. How did the city come up with its energy goals and projects?   Patrick Shea: The City has been recognized for sustainability and livability by several organizations including the State of...
Sophie Lutz
Wed, 01/11/2017 - 3:48pm
St. Olaf College, located in southeast Minnesota, is taking energy matters into their own hands and making the leap toward 100% renewable energy. This great feat has taken commendable initiative in order to completely relinquish dependence on non-renewable electricity sources. According to Pete Sandberg, St. Olaf Assistant Vice President for Facilities, “The role we’re playing in bringing more renewable energy resources online is something we can all be proud of.” Accompanying the wind turbine located on campus, the school of about 3,000 students has allocated acreage of College-owned land toward the implementation of five one-megawatt Community Solar Gardens. This combined with subscriptions to other community solar gardens and Xcel Energy’s Windsource program is all coming together to make the College’s carbon-neutral dream a reality!...

Pages

 
 
MN Energy Stories Blog
Bringing you news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state. Tell your story.


Stay in the Loop:
Receive a weekly email digest
of MN Energy Stories

Subscribe to RSS
Subscribe via RSS


Subscribe to Community Solar Blog Posts

Minnesotans building a clean energy future

         

    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission