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Applications due Feb. 28 for first year of Made in Minnesota Solar Program


Solar Panels on Roof

Solar modules certified as manufactured in Minnesota are eligible for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. (Photo provided by Silicon Energy)

Applications for the first year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program are due by Feb. 28, 2014 for new solar electric and solar thermal systems installed in 2014. Customers of investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) who install solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota are eligible for the program. Applications for the 10-year, $15-million-a-year program will be accepted each year through 2023 from Jan. 1-Feb. 28. Recipients will be selected by lottery.

The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce with an annual budget of $15 million for 10 years, including $250,000 per year for solar thermal rebates. The program is funded with 5% of each public electric utility’s total annual Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) budget. The Xcel Renewable Development Fund supplements this amount to bring the total incentives available to $15 million per year available to investor-owned electric utility customers.

Solar PV performance-based incentives
Incentives for solar electric, or photovoltaic (PV), systems are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Incentives to owners of an approved and installed PV system for 2014 will be paid based on the kilowatt hours (kWh) generated during the 2014 calendar year. The solar energy generated in 2014 will be reported by the customer’s utility company by March 1, 2015, and incentive payments to the consumer or business will be made by July 1, 2015, and each year thereafter.

The amount of energy produced will vary each year and therefore the incentive payment amount will vary each year. There are three incentive levels, depending on the ownership and system size. In addition, amounts vary by module. The three levels include For-Profit Commercial, Non-Profit/Public, and Residential. Commercial systems may have a capacity of up to 40 kW and residential systems may have a capacity of up to 10 kW. 

Solar thermal rebates
Rebates are also available to commercial, multifamily and residential property owners who install certified solar thermal systems using collectors certified as Made in Minnesota. The rebate is equal to 25 percent of the system installed cost up to a maximum of $2,500 for residential, $5,000 for multifamily, and $25,000 for commercial systems. 

Solar professionals urged to lead application process
Installers and developers are encouraged to lead the application process on behalf of their clients and complete a request for an applicant log-in and password. Applicants, typically solar installers or developers, should read the entire Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Application Guidelines (pdf) prior to starting the application process. Commerce discourages individuals or businesses who are not the installer or developer from applying for an applicant log-in, because the application is designed for solar professionals. Prior to beginning the application process and the request for applicant log-in, solar professionals should see the Made in Minnesota Application front page.

Made in Minnesota information
Information on the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program is available at the MiM website, with special sections for Consumers, Project Developers and Installers, and Manufacturers. You can also email questions to solar.help@state.mn.us or call the Commerce Energy Information Line: 651-539-1886 or toll-free 1-800-657-3710. To stay up to date on the Made in Minnesota Solar Program and other programs and events at the Department of Commerce, sign up to receive email newsletters and program alerts.

Solar Program and other programs and events at the Department of Commerce, sign up to receive email newsletters and program alerts.