Community solar is an arrangement by which a collection of solar panels (known as a solar garden or solar farm) provides electricity to more than one other property. The owners of these properties subscribe to the solar farm. The arrangement allows multiple parties to reap the benefits of solar—including lower electricity bills—without having to endure the expense of installing and maintaining solar panels on individual properties. In Minnesota, the community solar movement is growing rapidly, making Minnesota a great, forward-thinking state in which to join the community solar movement. More and more residents are discovering the benefits of community solar. Below are some key reasons for joining community solar in Minnesota.
An Early Adopter and a National Leader
While Minnesota isn’t as sunny and California, it has been a national leader in community solar.
The state established legislation in 2013 when the Solar Energy Jobs Act was signed into law. Among several changes to the state’s energy policies in the bill was the new authority for community solar to operate without a cap. This change secured the state’s position as a leader in community solar. The first output was generated in January 2017. Toward the end of 2016, community solar projects across the US generated only about 120 megawatts. In June 2022, the state’s total community solar output grew to 837 megawatts, more than half the state’s installed solar output. From 2015 to 2016, the state’s community solar projects helped the state increase solar output twelve times over. From 2015 to 2018, solar jobs in the state more than doubled, from 1,995 to 4,602. In 2018, 508 MWAC came from community solar gardens. A recent report predicts that Minnesota could attain 10 percent solar energy by 2025, at a cost comparable to that of natural gas. The state has more projects than any other state in the country and is home to the country’s largest community solar program.
Is Community Solar Expensive?
One myth about community solar is that it’s expensive, which simply isn’t true. Electricity savings will vary from household to household, but most residents of Minnesota who subscribe to community solar can expect to save 5 to 10 percent over their conventional electricity bills over the course of a year. Sign up costs also vary. Some programs offer arrangements that are $0 down, while others charge a small startup fee to get customers up and running. And there’s no purchase of solar panels required.
Jobs in Community Solar
When you sign up for community solar, you’re also supporting local green jobs in the solar sector. Minnesota is actively interested in attracting new solar business to the state and in helping existing solar businesses expand. These jobs include installers, system developers, and agencies that help finance solar. The solar industry is booming in Minnesota, and the state is taking an active role in sustaining the boom in the solar energy. Signing up for community solar is a way of supporting this community effort.