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Minnesota utilities break solar electric system installation records again

April 01, 2011

Minnesota utilities break solar electric system installation records again


For Immediate Release:  Friday, April 1, 2011

(ST. PAUL, MN) A record number of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed in Minnesota in 2010, according to the Minnesota Utility Solar Integration Rankings compiled by the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security (OES).

The 2010 rankings, designed to highlight utilities in Minnesota that are leading the integration of solar electricity into the grid, found a record 228 new PV systems were installed last year, nearly tripling the previous record of 76 PV systems in 2009.

"As a clean and abundant energy source, we are pleased to see real progress in solar energy systems in Minnesota," said Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "Our department is working hard to ensure that as one of the fastest growing forms of clean energy, solar will be part of Minnesota's energy mix into the future."

The growing number of solar installations in Minnesota has a broad impact on the state.

"More solar installations translates into more clean energy jobs being added to the state's economy, many in the growing number of Minnesota-based solar energy companies," Commissioner Rothman said. "Minnesota's air is also cleaner and our carbon footprint is more sustainable as a result of this growth in solar energy."


Installations of PV systems in 2010 totaled 1.8 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy. At present, Minnesota has 606 known PV installations with a total capacity of four megawatts - nearly double the known capacity in 2009 according to OES.

A sizeable 600 kilowatt (kW) PV project at the Minneapolis Convention Center installed in December takes the title of the state's largest installation, making up 15 percent of known capacity in Minnesota.

Minnesota utilities Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in both the number of PV systems installed and in total solar capacity installed, according to the rankings.

OES officials say that the record set in 2010 was in large part a result of the state's solar electric rebate program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocated $2.5 million to residences and small businesses. The funds in that program are fully reserved, however, funds remain for solar hot water and solar air heat installations.

Installing a solar system is becoming more affordable, especially with federal and state incentive programs. Incentives include a 30 percent federal tax credit (through 2016), a state sales tax exemption on solar equipment, federal treasury grant in lieu of tax credit, accelerated depreciation and bonus depreciation. Some Minnesota utilities offer customer incentives for solar as well.

The rankings, which include data from 2002 through 2010, were completed using Minnesota Solar Electric Rebate data in combination with other known PV generation sources. At least 65 of Minnesota's 178 electric utilities now have at least one solar electric system interconnected within their service territory.

Minnesota Utilities Solar Electric Generation 2002-2010

Number of Solar PV Installations


Ranking 
 
1
 Xcel Energy
 Installs: 327
 
2
 Minnesota Power 
 Installs:67
 
3
 Dakota Electric Association 
 Installs:18
 
3
 Lake Country Power 
 Installs:18
 
5
 East Central Energy 
 Installs:11
 
6
 Connexus Energy 
 Installs:10
 
6
 Kandiyohi Power Coop 
 Installs:10
 
7
 Arrowhead Coop 
 Installs:9
 
8
 Coop Light & Power
Installs: 8
 
9
 Minnesota Valley Electric 
 Installs:6
 
9
 Todd Wadena Electric Coop 
 Installs:6
 
10
 Crow Wing Power 
 Installs:5
 
10
 People's Cooperative Services 
 Installs:5
 
10
 Shakopee Public Utilities 
 Installs:5
 
10
 Stearns Electric Association 
 Installs:5
 
10
 Wright-Hennepin Coop 
 Installs:5
 

 

Installed Solar Capacity


Ranking  
 
1
 Xcel Energy 
 Capacity (KW):2,993
 
2
 Minnesota Power 
 Capacity (KW):199
 
3
 Wright-Hennepin Co-op 
 Capacity (KW):178
 
4
 Lake Country Power 
 Capacity (KW):71
 
5
 Dakota Electric 
 Capacity (KW):69
 
6
 East Central Co-op 
 Capacity (KW):55
 
7
 Connexus Energy 
 Capacity (KW):34
 
8
 Minnesota Valley Electric 
 Capacity (KW):31
 
9
 Marshall Municipal 
 Capacity (KW):29
 
9
 Stearns Electric Association 
 Capacity (KW):29
 

Total capacity and number of installations are for 2002 through December 31, 2010. For more information on solar energy, visit our website www.energy.mn.gov . Details on financial incentives can be found at www.dsireusa.org .