Minnesotans are often surprised to learn that our state has annual solar resources similar to areas of Florida and Texas. As consumers learn more about solar potential in Minnesota, demand will continue to rise.
Advances in technology, declining equipment costs, and financial assistance in the form of tax credits and incentives make solar an attractive clean energy option.
If you are interested in powering your home with solar energy, Commerce is to here to help.
Guidance for planning and installing your own solar energy system
Before investing in solar, first consider making some basic home improvements that will save energy:
Get an energy audit
Seal air leaks and add insulation
Repair or replace old heating and cooling systems
Replace old lighting with high-efficiency LEDs
Use a programmable thermostat
The Home Energy Guide can serve as a resource to help you reduce your energy use up-front.
By making your home energy efficient first, you can reduce your energy consumption. A decrease in your energy demand will reduce the size of investment needed for your solar energy system, and maximize the returns on your system.
After your home is energy efficient, you are ready to explore solar. But before you buy, take these steps:
Get educated: Solar can generate electricity, heat water, or help heat your home. Making electricity is the most common use of solar energy in Minnesota today. Learn about solar through sources such as the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Take a class on solar basics. See the U.S. DOE's Homeowner's Guide to Going Solar website. Check for community education opportunities in your area. Talk to neighbors and friends who have installed solar. Contact your electric utility.
Plan your system: Find out if your location is suitable for solar. The Minnesota Solar Suitability App can help identify the solar potential of your home or business. But you will need a site assessment to determine if your location can capture enough of the sun’s rays. A third-party source, such as the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, can provide an independent site assessment.
Finalize a contract with your professional solar installation company and have your system installed.
Maintain your system and keep track of its energy production.
Alternatives to owning solar
If purchasing your own solar energy system isn’t an option, consider the following opportunities as a way to support solar and clean energy.
Subscribe to a community solar garden: An emerging option for the customers of several Minnesota electric utilities customers is joining a community solar garden, These solar photovoltaic systems provide electricity to participating subscribers. They are a way for people in Minnesota to get at least a portion of their power from solar electric systems without installing their own stand-alone project. The Clean Energy Resource Teams offers information on Community Solar Gardens.
Participate in a green pricing program. Green pricing is a voluntary option offered by some Minnesota electric utilities that allows you to support renewable energy beyond what your utility would otherwise be required to do. You usually pay a little more for your energy to cover the incremental cost of the additional wind or solar energy. Check with your utility to see if it offers green pricing.
Solar Ready Building Design Guidelines (.pdf)
Guidelines that address specific site planning, building form, space planning, roofing, and mechanical and electrical issues during the design phase of solar ready buildings.