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Minnesota Commerce Department project to focus on expanding access to solar power

10/20/2016 4:21:28 PM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL – The Minnesota Commerce Department announced today that it will receive funding through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to make solar power more accessible to low- and moderate-income Minnesotans.

“The development of renewable energy resources continues to drive economic opportunity and job growth in Minnesota. This federal grant will help provide all Minnesotans the opportunity to participate in the clean energy economy,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank our federal partners for providing this grant and the Clean Energy States Alliance for their work coordinating our efforts across the nation.”

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit organization, will coordinate the multi-state project to develop and implement strategies for expanding the solar energy market among low- and moderate-income residents and communities. The $1.73 million grant from the SunShot Initiative will support solar market expansion in Minnesota and four other states as well as the District of Columbia.

“The sun shines on everyone, so it is only fair that solar power should be an option available to everyone,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose agency serves as the state energy office. “Minnesota is poised to make major progress with the growth of solar power, and it is important that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to share in this progress.”

The Commerce Department will be the lead agency for Minnesota’s participation in the project and will work closely with Xcel Energy, the state’s largest investor-owned utility. Over the next three years, the department will collaborate with utility, solar industry and community stakeholders to develop and implement promising strategies to promote broader access to solar in Minnesota.

Expanding solar for low- and moderate-income Minnesota households will help support the state’s solar energy goals. In 2013, Minnesota passed the Solar Energy Standard that requires investor-owned utilities to obtain 1.5 percent of their electric power from solar by 2020, with a goal of 10 percent by 2030.

Consumers at all income levels can potentially save money by going solar, but low- and moderate-income households have faced barriers to participation in the solar market. Reducing these barriers will allow more Minnesotans to share in the financial, environmental and other benefits of solar power.

“This project will tackle one of the most important challenges facing future solar development,” said Warren Leon, Executive Director of CESA. “The participating states are all committed to expanding low-income access to solar power and ensuring that solar development proceeds in an equitable manner. We are excited to be partnering with them.”

About the Clean Energy States Alliance 

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national, nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA members—mostly state agencies— include many of the most innovative, successful, and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives in the country. Learn more at

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 |


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