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Solar electric installations reach record highs in MN

May 19, 2010

Solar electric installations reach record highs in MN

Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power top Minnesota Utility Solar Integration Rankings

(ST. PAUL, MN) A record number of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed in Minnesota in 2009, according to the Minnesota Utility Solar Integration Rankings compiled by the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security (OES).

The rankings, designed to highlight utilities in Minnesota that are leading the integration of solar electricity into the grid, found a record 72 new solar electric systems with a combined record capacity of 784 kilowatts (kW) were installed in 2009.  The previous high was reached in 2007, with 56 installations at 286 kW.

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 expect the records set in 2009 will be easily surpassed in 2010, thanks in part to the state's 2010 solar electric rebate program, which allocated $2.5 million to residences and small businesses.

At present, the total known PV capacity statewide is just over two megawatts, according to the Office of Energy Security. That capacity is expected to double by the end of 2010.

"Solar energy is an important domestic resource that Minnesotans can tap into," said Bill Glahn, director of the OES and deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "There is great potential to scale up solar power in the state. The utilities and their customers who have chosen to invest in solar have taken a major step in moving toward energy independence."

Installing a solar system is becoming more affordable, especially with utility incentive programs, the 30 percent federal tax credit (through 2016), and a state sales tax exemption on solar equipment.

The rankings, which include data through Jan. 31, 2010, were completed using Minnesota Solar Electric Rebate data in combination with other known PV generation sources. At least 55 of Minnesota's 178 electric utilities now have at least one solar electric system interconnected within their service territory.

Minnesota Utilities Solar Electric Generation

Number of Solar PV Installations
    Utililty          Installs 
 1. Xcel Energy   147
 2. Minnesota Power   56
 3. Lake Country Power    11
 3. Dakota Electric Association   11
 5. Co-op Light & Power   8
 6. East Central Co-op     7
 6. Arrowhead Co-op     7
8. Connexus Energy    6
9. Crow Wing Power  5
10. Todd Wadena Electric   4
10. Itasca Mantrap    4
10. Mora Municipal    4
10. People's Cooperative Services   4

 Installed Solar Capacity
     Utility           Capacity (sum of KW)
 1. Xcel Energy    1,153
 2. Minnesota Power   154
 3. Wright-Hennepin Co-op   79
 4. Lake Country Power   44
 5. Dakota Electric Association   35
 6. Co-op Light & Power   30
 7. Marshall Municipal   29
 8. East Central Co-op   27
9. Connexus Energy  17
9. Mora Municipal   17

Total capacity and number of installations are for 2002-Jan. 31, 2010 (does not include planned projects for 2010).