FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2023
Historic Legislative Progress Ushers in a New Era for Minnesota Solar + Storage
St. Paul, MN—The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) celebrates the passage of a historic $80 million investment in solar + energy storage incentive programs by the Minnesota legislature. Clean energy received an unprecedented level of interest, support, and forward momentum this Legislative Session. MnSEIA is excited to see that the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources, Climate, and Energy Finance and Policy bill (HF 2310) includes budget items for:
- $29.3 million in funding for the popular Solar for Schools program that saves school districts and local property tax payers thousands of dollars every year;
- $7 million for Minnesota’s first energy storage incentive program for on-site energy storage systems;
- $5 million for a Solar on Public Buildings program to increase solar access to a wider range of Minnesota's communities;
- $4.2 million for the National Sports Center in Blaine to add solar and save thousands on monthly energy costs;
- $12.5 million in funding for Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program;
- $3.4 million for the University of St. Thomas Center for Microgrid Research;
- $10.2 million for distributed energy upgrade grants to improve interconnection timelines;
- $5.3 million for electric grid resiliency grants;
- $3 million for MnSEIA member Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) for their “Energy Alley Initiative;”
- $250 thousand for an energy storage system capacity study evaluating the amount of energy storage required to achieve the state’s new 100% carbon free standard;
- $420 thousand for a multi-agency study and report on developing a statewide system to reuse and recycle solar panels.
The bill also makes a number of important policy changes, including:
- Community Solar Garden program updates that will expand the existing market and create new opportunities through a legacy program. This is a huge win for the industry and was many years in the making;
- Distributed Generation (DG) Standard that requires all investor owned utilities to meet a certain percentage (1-3% depending on the utility) of their energy procurement through DG solar by 2030. This is estimated to add roughly 800 megawatts of new solar to the grid;
- “Customer bill of rights” legislation that places certain restrictions on Homeowners Associations trying to limit solar and allows utility customers to request their energy usage data from utilities. This will give the 1 in 4 Minnesotans who live in an HOA the freedom to go solar.
Other energy-related items in the bill include funding for workforce training, electric vehicle rebates, a State Competitiveness Fund designed to match federal grants for renewable energy projects, and more.
“It’s a new era for solar and energy storage in Minnesota,” says MnSEIA’s Executive Director Logan O’Grady. “The policies created in this Legislative Session will set off a historic boom for clean energy in our state. It’s a huge signal to the country that Minnesota is serious about solar and that we’re a great market to do business in. Lawmakers just created hundreds of family-sustaining jobs and exciting opportunities for small businesses. This is a truly monumental Legislative Session and MnSEIA is proud to have advocated for our members and the solar + storage industry. The future of solar just got a whole lot brighter and MnSEIA is looking forward to ushering in this new era.”
Minnesota’s market has been friendly to clean energy for some time, but outdated legislation, interconnection challenges, and lack of funding has slowed progress lately. The Energy and Environment Omnibus bill will jumpstart the state’s industry and inject new opportunities and excitement for solar.
“MnSEIA’s fifteen-year history of working across the aisle to create long-term legislative success certainly paid off this year,” says Griffin Dooling, MnSEIA’s Board President and CEO of Minnetonka-based Blue Horizon Energy. “This legislation will create a whole new world of opportunities for the solar industry. We’ll be able to hire more local workers, build more solar + storage projects, and bring cleaner energy to more Minnesotan citizens, businesses, and communities.”
Progress this Legislative Session wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of bipartisan lawmakers in both chambers. We’re especially thankful to House energy committee chair Rep. Patty Acomb and Senate energy chair Senator Nick Frentz for shepherding the Omnibus bill through the committee process this Session, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Jamie Long for prioritizing clean energy initiatives that advance solar and energy storage, Majority Whip Athena Hollins, and the Environment, Natural Resources, Climate, and Energy Finance and Policy Conference Committee Members: Rep. Rick Hansen, Rep. Sydney Jordan, Rep. Larry Kraft, Senator Julia Coleman, Senator Foung Hawj, Senator Jennifer McEwen, and Senator Tou Xiong. We’re also grateful for the dedication and support of our partners and members who helped MnSEIA advocate for strong energy policies.
The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law in the coming days!
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