Attendees at Appleton solar event

"Getting into Solar" event a big draw for West Central Minnesotans

On Tuesday afternoon, May 24, 2016, the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission hosted a West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams (WC CERT) event focused on all things solar.

The event was geared toward helping participants understand what solar means for local government, planning agencies, and residents. A room full of 36 people gathered to soak up the information. Kristi Fernholz, a Senior Planner for the UMVRDC and WC CERT Coordinator welcomed the group, and after a brief round of introductions, we were off and running.

Topics that were covered included everything from solar basics and what various sized solar systems look like on the landscape to considerations for solar planning and zoning, net metering and subscribing to a community solar garden. Annette Fiedler, Southwest CERT Coordinator with the Southwest Regional Development Commission and Lissa Pawlisch, CERT Director with the University of MN Extension’s regional Sustainable Development Partnership tag-teamed on presentations.

Download presentations:

Participants asked great questions, and speakers offered answers. Here are a couple good examples:

Q: When you talk about the tax credit, how does it apply?
A: You get the percentage available 30% for 2016 – 2019, applied in that year; though it can be carried forward. It’s like subtracting a third of the cost of the project in that first year.

Q: When you say that the net metering cap is 40kW, what does that mean?
A: It means the system can be rated to produce up to 40 kW in an hour at peak output.

A variety of perspectives: Bill Kylve of Otter Tail Power Company and Dan Tepfer of Kandiyohi Power Cooperative were both on hand to describe what each of their utilities are working on related to solar and what they need to see when interconnecting a solar project. It was helpful to have many local government people in the room to share their own questions, ideas and experiences, not to mention a few solar installers and developers who could add their knowledge to the conversation.

A handy resource: Along with the presentations, CERTs developed a solar resource guide to help local units of government considering solar understand their options.

CERTs is currently exploring interest in several different working groups:

  • Solar permitting, planning, and zoning ordinances
  • Community solar subscriptions
  • Installing solar on your own facilities

If you are interested in participating in any of these, please let either Kristi ([email protected]) or Lissa ([email protected]) know.

Media coverage: A big thanks to Tom Cherveny at the West Central Tribune for writing an excellent article on the event.

Photos: Watch the slideshow below to see more photos from the event.


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