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Solar to Low-and Moderate-Income Communities

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is the project lead for Minnesota in a U.S. Department of Energy grant that empowers five states (Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Rhode Island) and the District of Columbia to develop and implement strategies for expanding market penetration of solar PV among low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents and communities. 

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit organization, is coordinating the three-year, $1.73 million multi-state project to make solar energy more available to people of all income levels. Work on the grant project, funded by the Solar Energy Technologies Office, began in January 2017.

Expanding solar for LMI Minnesotans will help support the state’s Solar Energy Standard, which requires investor-owned utilities to obtain 1.5% of their electric power from solar by 2020, with a goal of 10% by 2030.

As part of Minnesota’s grant, Commerce is collaborating with utility, solar industry and community stakeholders to implement strategies to promote broader access to solar. 

In pursuit of these strategies, Commerce implemented an initiative called Connecting Low-Income Communities through Efficiency and Renewable Sources (CLICERS). Participants in CLICERS helped shape solar-based strategies in an action plan, “Strategic solar actions for income-eligible Minnesota households,” released in June 2018. CLICERS also helped develop a second plan that focuses on the use of efficiency and renewables to reduce the energy burden among income-eligible households.

The solar-based strategies action plan identifies three main solutions:

  • Expand access to community solar gardens for income-eligible households
  • Develop a model income-eligible solar incentive program
  • Identify “no loss” opportunities to leverage resources for income-eligible households

Implementation of these strategies will take place through 2019.

For more information about this project, contact or call 800-657-3710.

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