Community Solar Brings Big Benefits to Minnesota

Minnesota is the national leader in community solar, with 208 projects producing enough power for 100,000 typical homes (as of December 2018). Minnesota has more than a third of all community solar projects in the US. The Community Solar Garden policy is the best in the nation, making it easy to develop and subscribe to solar power.

My new report for Vote Solar, MnSEIA, and the Institute for Local Self Reliance finds that the Community Solar Garden policy is creating big benefits for the state.

  • Customers:  More than 14,000 Minnesota customers have signed up for community solar, to save money, create local economic development and jobs, and to protect the environment. That includes over 12,000 households and 2,000 business, non-profit, and public-sector customers. Businesses like Andersen Windows and Insight Brewing in Minneapolis are going solar to show their commitment to sustainability and to lock in stable long-term pricing. Schools, local governments, and hospitals make up almost half of non-residential subscribers, and can use the savings to provide better services.
  • Workers:  Community solar employed over 4,000 workers in Minnesota in 2018, including many family-wage construction jobs. “Solar installer” was the fastest growing job in the US last year.
  • Landowners:  Community solar projects currently pay about $5 million a year to landowners for leases and royalty payments. Counting all projects operating or currently under construction, about 354 landowners will receive a total of $182 million in leases and royalties over the next 25 years.
  • Local Governments:  Community solar projects will pay over$1 million this year to counties and towns through the state Solar Production Tax Credit, plus substantially increased property tax revenues.
  • Environment and Public Health:  Community solar systems cut global warming emissions by almost a million tons per year, plus over 400 tons of sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions that harm public health and the environment.
  • Utilities: Although Xcel Energy has the most community solar gardens serving their customers, there are also 37 projects offered by municipal utilities and rural electric coops.

The report, Minnesota’s Solar Gardens: The Status and Benefits of Community Solar, was released May 1, 2019. See the report, an interactive data tool (below!), videos, and more at votesolar.org/MNcommunitysolar.