New report quantifies benefits of community solar in Minnesota

A report released by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Vote Solar and the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association finds that community solar is bringing big benefits to Minnesota. Minnesota is the national leader in community solar, with 208 projects around the state producing enough power for 100,000 typical homes. The state is currently home to more than a third of all community solar projects in the United States.

Community solar allows residents, businesses and non-profit organizations to invest in solar power even if their own home or building is not suited to hosting solar panels or if they are renters. Customers can subscribe to the output of a solar garden located somewhere else and get the power counted toward their monthly electricity consumption through a credit on their utility bill.

The Minnesota’s Solar Gardens report found:

  • More than 14,000 Minnesota customers have signed up for community solar, including over 12,000 households and 2,000 business, non-profit and public-sector customers.
  • Community solar employed over 4,000 workers in Minnesota in 2018, including many family-wage construction jobs. “Solar installer” was the fastest growing job category in the country.
  • Community solar projects currently pay about $5 million a year to Minnesota family farmers for leases and royalty payments. Counting all projects operating or under construction, about 354 landowners will receive a total of $182 million in leases and royalties over the next 25 years.
  • Community solar projects will contribute over $3 million this year in taxes to counties and towns through property tax revenues and the state’s solar production tax credit.
  • 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.

The Minnesota legislature is currently considering different proposals that could weaken or strengthen Minnesota’s Community Solar Garden policy. HF 2208, recently approved by the Minnesota House of Representatives, would expand the role of community solar in Greater Minnesota and improve the diversity of Minnesotans with access to the program.

The report, “Minnesota’s Solar Gardens: The Status and Benefits of Community Solar,” was written for Vote Solar, MinnSEIA and the Institute for Local Self Reliance by Bentham Paulos, an energy policy consultant based in California.  More at paulosanalysis.com.

More materials from the report, including video clips and an interactive data dashboard that can be embedded in websites, are available at votesolar.org/MNcommunitysolar.

News item from Vote Solar

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