The Minnesota legislature established a solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal incentive program for consumers who install PV and solar thermal systems using solar modules and collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. The program is administered by the Department of Commerce with an annual budget of up to $15 million for ten 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 public electric utility customers.
Incentives for solar PV are performance-based, established by a system’s energy production, and paid over 10 years. Owners of an approved and installed PV system will receive payments annually by July 1st based on the kWh output of the system in the previous calendar year.
There are three incentive levels depending on the ownership and system size. In addition, amounts vary by module. The three levels are 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.
Rebates are also available to commercial, multi-family and residential property owners who install Made in Minnesota certified solar thermal systems. The rebate is equal to 25% of the system installed cost up to a maximum of $2,500 for residential, $5,000 for multi-family and $25,000 for commercial systems.
Both solar PV and solar thermal projects must be located in one of the four participating electric Investor Owned Utilities’ (IOU) service territories. Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, Alliant Energy and Ottertail Power are participating.
Applications must be accepted annually between January 1 and February 28 and selected by lottery.
There are four utilities participating in the Made in Minnesota solar program. All of the new solar PV or solar thermal projects funded through MiM must be in the service territory of a participating utility. All MiM funded PV projects will be required to go through an interconnection process and sign an interconnection agreement with the utility. For more information, work with your solar installation company or contact the appropriate utility representative listed below.
Production Based Incentives (PBIs) are designed to pay the customer based on the actual production of its renewable energy system over time. The Made in Minnesota structure for production based incentive payments to the customer is based on the amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) produced annually for 10 years. By March 1st each year, the participating utility in which the solar PV system is interconnected with will annually record and submit to the Department of Commerce a record of the energy produced by the system from January 1 – December 31. The Department of Commerce will use the amount of energy produced to calculate a PBI amount and send a check to the customer by July 1st. Renewable Energy Credits (REC) associated with the energy provided to the utility for which an incentive payment is made belong to the utility.
For example, a resident who installs a 5 kW array of Made in Minnesota Silicon Energy certified modules that generates 6,446 kWh of electricity annually will be paid $2,513.94 (6,446 kWh x.39/kWh) each year for 10 years or a total of $25,139.40. The amount of electricity produced and therefore the incentive payment will vary each year.
If the a business owner installs a 30 kW commercial array of Made in Minnesota Silicon Energy certified modules that generates 42,516 kWh annually will be paid $5,527.07 (42,516 kWh x .13/kWh) each year for 10 years or a total of $55,270.74. The amount of electricity produced and therefore the incentive payment will vary each year.
Solar thermal energy is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat). Low-temperature collectors are flat plates generally used to heat swimming pools. Medium-temperature collectors are also usually flat plates but are used for heating water or air for residential and commercial use.
For the purposes of the Made in Minnesota program, a “Solar Thermal System” means a flat plate or evacuated tube with a fixed orientation that collects the sun’s radiant energy and transfers it to a storage medium for distribution as energy to heat or cool air or water. A solar thermal system is “Made in Minnesota” if components of the system are manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system is certified by the solar rating and certification corporation. The solar thermal systems may be installed in residential and commercial facilities for, among other purposes, water heating, space heating, and pool heating purposes.
A solar garden is a solar electric array with multiple subscribers connected to the utility grid. The subscribers may purchase a portion of the power produced by the array and receive a credit on their electric bill. Utility customers within the solar garden’s service area, including residences, businesses, local governments, non-profits, and faith-based organizations, can all subscribe.
For purposes of the Made in Minnesota program, a community solar garden is a facility that generates electricity by means of a ground mounted or roof mounted solar PV device whereby subscribers receive a bill credit for the electricity generated in proportion to the size of their subscription. To receive a production based incentive for using a certified Made in Minnesota module, the community garden must have not less than five subscribers of which no single subscriber has more than a 40% interest. Each subscription must be sized to represent at least 200 watts of the community solar garden’s generating capacity and to supply, when combined with the other distributed generation resources serving the premises, no more than 120% of the average annual consumption of electricity by each subscriber. The system size cannot be greater than 40 kW and it must be located in Xcel Energy service territory. All CSGs will be considered commercial for profit and receive that PBI rate that corresponds to the certified module installed.
For general information on the Made in Minnesota (MiM) program please email your questions to email@example.com or call the Commerce Energy Information Line: 651-539-1886 or toll free 1-800-657-3710 or stay up to date on the latest information 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.
The following are the MiM news release and article that were published/distributed to date: