FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2020
Minnesota Utilities Step Up to Expedite and Increase Their Investment in Solar to Aid Pandemic Economic Recovery
St. Paul, MINN - The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) is incredibly pleased with Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power for their commitments to expedite the installation of utility-scale solar investments, and their added consideration of additional behind-the-meter and Community Solar Garden solar installations. These two utility companies did not need to propose any meaningful action for assisting Minnesota’s solar economy in the wake of COVID-19—but they did.
In response to Commissioner Sullivan’s request that Minnesota’s rate regulated utilities offer ideas for COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power have proposed aggressive timeline adjustments and the pursuit of additional solar resources. For reference, these ideas are in Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Docket Number 20-492.
Of particular note is Xcel Energy’s willingness to expedite the installation of its $669 million, 460MW Sherco solar and storage project, and to potentially provide the green power to schools throughout their service territory. This acceleration should result in an estimated 350 new solar jobs, which would increase the current solar workforce in Minnesota by about 8%. We believe accelerating the Sherco solar project is a wise choice, given that Xcel’s Integrated Resource Plan currently proposes 3GW of solar additions between 2025-2030. Starting the projects sooner should keep the jobs locally with Minnesotans and keep install prices low, as the project will require less out of state assistance. It also should allow Xcel to take advantage of the current Investment Tax Credit to save ratepayers money.
Minnesota Power’s approach is similarly aggressive in their willingness to advance their $40 million investment in 20MW of utility-scale solar projects, along with several positive distributed solar programmatic changes. First, SolarSense, Minnesota Power’s rooftop incentive program, has been approved on a year-to-year basis as of late. Minnesota Power is now proposing a 4-year program, which should help solar installers create a business model around the incentive this year. Minnesota Power also looks to expand their Community Solar Garden program, and to make their low-income solar pilot a permanent program. These solar changes will put Northern Minnesotans to work in the clean energy industry—at a time when jobs are sorely needed.
MnSEIA supports the ideas that these two utilities have put forward, which will lead to thousands of additional solar jobs throughout the state. These ideas will put Minnesotans to work, while delivering power at prices that should not impact ratepayers.
MnSEIA is a member-driven 501(c)(6) nonprofit that promotes and protects Minnesota’s solar and storage industries. We advocate in the state legislative and regulatory arenas in a unified and actionable way to move solar + storage forward. Find out more at www.mnseia.org.
Abbi Morgan, Director of Business Development & Communications