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Solar for Schools

solar for schools logoSchools are increasingly going solar nationally and across Minnesota.

In 2022, Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools was published detailing national solar school trends through December 2021. It reported 8,400 schools with a collective solar capacity exceeding 1,600 MW, representing 9% of U.S. K-12 schools and 19% of U.S. K-12 school districts. With more than 23 MW of solar installed across nearly 190 schools, Minnesota is among the top states for solar schools, ranking 13 and 11 respectively.

In 2021, the Minnesota State Legislature established the Solar for Schools grant program (Minn. Stat. 216C.375). The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources. In 2023, the Legislature passed language that folds the program for schools in Xcel Energy territory (216C.376) into the program administered by the Commerce Energy Division. See “About the Grant” section below for more details.Map

The program was designed to stimulate the installation of solar energy systems on Minnesota schools, while using the opportunity to integrate renewable energy use into school curriculum. As of May 2023, K-12 schools (Independent, Special and Cooperative Districts), Tribal Contract Schools, as well as MN State Colleges and Universities are eligible to apply for grants through the program. In the program’s first year alone, 63 Minnesota schools were awarded grant to install new solar energy systems. Combined with additional pending applications, these projects represent a nearly 50 percent increase in Minnesota schools with solar.

Inquiries related to this program should be directed to SolarForSchools@state.mn.us.

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