Although many people don't see Minnesota as a likely leader in solar energy, the Land of 10,000 Lakes has worked hard to establish a robust solar market. While the state ranks 13th in the SEIA national ranking for installing more than 1,000 MW of solar power, Minnesota's commitment to solar energy is beginning to pay off, according to a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Dividen Energy.
The goal is a continuation of the original goal set by President Obama in his Climate Action Plan to install 100 MW of renewable energy in federally subsidized affordable housing by 2020. This ambitious goal is the result of the ongoing commitment of the state and federal government and will certainly require a lot of hard work, but also a lot of support from the private sector. These challenges have reduced market barriers to the use of solar energy, boosted the implementation of dozens of projects across the country, and opened up emerging solar markets in states like Minnesota.
While Minnesota has already implemented policy incentives to promote solar energy, the state will continue to support the industry. The Renewable Development Fund (EDF) is managed by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy and supports incentives for renewable energy production. In addition, Minnesota recently granted $100 million in grants to increase renewable energy funding from the Minnesota Energy Development Authority (MEDA) and other state agencies.
One of the more favourable incentives provided by the ERDF is the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards programme, which pays customers who have installed solar panels between 2014 and 2018 for 10 years each year. The utility-led incentive received similar incentives from Minnesota Power's SolarSense rebate program in the early 2000s. Minnesota also introduced a net metering scheme in 2010 that allows solar owners to be compensated for excess solar production fed into the grid. In addition, Minnesota has created incentives for electricity customers to use solar energy, and this has led to more than $1 billion in investments in renewable energy projects in Minnesota.
Today, utilities offer lottery discounts - selected discounts for customers that offset up to 60 percent of the cost of solar panels. These programs make it incredibly easy for residents to generate solar power and allow electricity customers to receive net meter credits for solar power by registering a local solar system.
This innovative financing mechanism allows homeowners to benefit immediately from energy improvements and pay the costs over time through their property taxes. To help customers who use solar energy, Minnesota has introduced an exemption from the sales tax on solar energy that saves residents nearly 7 percent when buying a solar system. The state's RPS has been revised to include solar energy - in what requires that 1.5 percent of the state's electricity come from solar by 2020. Finally, Minnesota's largest utility, Xcel Energy, has committed to guaranteeing its customers a 20 percent renewable energy share by the end of 2018 and a 50 percent renewable energy share by 2050.
This brings the total pledged amount to over $1.5 billion in renewable energy pledges. Today's new commitments represent the largest single commitment in the history of the state RPS and the second largest such commitment in Minnesota.
The winning team will also install solar panels to help low-income families in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The winning teams will receive a $250,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) and can enjoy up to $1,500 per solar system shared with a low-income family and benefiting a low-income family, as well as $500 per system for a family of four.
The Solar Foundation conducted the research and analysis to improve understanding of the impact of renewable energy on low-income communities in Minnesota. In the coming months, the EPA will provide additional information resources to understand successful models that can be used to bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to income communities, as well as information on the benefits of solar for low- and middle-class families in the Twin Cities.
The summit will create a central clearinghouse for best practice, supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and other federal agencies. The Solar Foundation will manage the program and establish a Solar Jobs Strategic Commission to support the development and implementation of low, And low-income families in Minnesota, including a solar job program for low- and middle-class families in Minnesota and an energy efficiency program. DOE is creating an internal digital hub for power and federal funding to help low- and middle-income Americans use solar energy. Create a resource hub to promote access to energy, and you can learn more about the DOE's new Solar Energy Initiative, a federal resource that helps low-, middle-, and income-earners obtain solar energy, in a new, open-source online portal.