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Your source for news and updates related to Department of Commerce agencies and programs.

January 2019 Renewable News

1/11/2019 9:23:32 AM

Welcome to Renewable News, where you will find the latest news and information on a wide range of renewable energy topics.

2019 is final year of 30% Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

This is the final year residents can claim the full 30% federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, so for residents considering a solar energy system (PV or hot water), small wind system, ground source heat pump, or other eligible systems, 2019 is a good time to install it. The current tax credit means a taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer. The tax credit for all eligible systems will phase down over the next three years from 30% in 2019, 26% in 2020, and 22% in 2021, and it will end in 2022. There is a similar Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) available for businesses, with a similar phase down schedule. Read more about the tax credit and other incentives for renewables. 

MPCA/Commerce report: More work needed to reduce GHG emissions

Minnesota has made important progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but there is more work to be done to achieve the goals of the Next Generation Energy Act, according to “Greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota: 1990-2016,” a biennial report to the Legislature tracking the state’s emissions that contribute to climate change. The report, a joint effort of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Commerce, found that Minnesota’s overall GHG pollutants declined 12% relative to 2005 levels, but the state missed the Next Generation Energy Act’s goal of 15% emissions reduction by 2015.

Emissions from electricity used by Minnesotans are down by about 29% since 2005. This means the electricity generation sector has met the Act’s 2015 goal, and has nearly reached the 2025 emissions reduction goal. However, “to achieve our GHG emissions reduction goals, we will need to further reduce emissions from what is now our largest source of in-state emissions, transportation,” the report concludes. “Supporting and promoting the use of EVs, supporting the use of cleaner transportation fuels (such as biofuels), encouraging the use of public and multimodal transportation, and mindful transportation planning are crucial elements in decreasing GHGs from transportation.” Read the full report (pdf).

Renewable Energy Update highlights Minnesota’s push for renewables

Minnesota’s electricity generation mix has changed dramatically from 2007 to 2017, with renewable energy making big gains over coal-fired power, according to the latest Minnesota Renewable Energy Update, posted on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website last month. For instance:

  • Electricity generated by renewable sources tripled from 8% in 2007 to 25% in 2017.
  • Solar produced 1.2% of electricity in 2017, compared to just 0.02% in 2016.
  • Wind energy went from 5% in 2007 to 18% in 2017.
  • Natural gas nearly doubled from 7% in 2007 to 12% in 2017.
  • Coal energy decreased from 59% in 2007 to 39% in 2017.

Renewable electricity generation in 2017 came from these sources in Minnesota:

  • 3,509 MW wind capacity.
  • 596 MWAC (714 MWDC) solar PV capacity.
  • 487 MW biomass electricity capacity.
  • 203 MW hydroelectric capacity.

Minnesota’s renewable energy progress is expected to continue in the coming years with additional planned wind and solar power growth. In particular, about 1,300 MW of new in-state wind generation is currently under construction or in development, which will result in an estimated 35% increase in Minnesota’s wind-powered electricity within the next several years. For more details on wind and solar energy and utility plans for expanded renewable energy, read the Minnesota Renewable Energy Update, November 2018

ACEEE blog: Energy efficiency remains nation’s least-cost electricity resource

New data by Lazard, a financial advisory firm, shows that prices for renewable electricity declined again this year, continuing their downward trend. But the data, released last month, miss another critical clean energy resource, according to a blog report by Maggie Molina, Senior Director for Policy for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Energy efficiency—the kilowatt-hours we avoid by eliminating waste—remains, on average, our nation’s least-cost resource. Efficiency also delivers a host of other benefits. It improves electric grid reliability and resilience, can target savings where and when needed the most, creates jobs, spurs other economic development, reduces customer utility bills, makes homes and buildings more comfortable, and reduces harmful pollution.

Solar News

Carleton students win 2018 Solar Video Contest

“Let’s Go Solar” by Carleton College students Fernando Saldivia and Alan Zheng earned first-place honors in the 2018 Solar Video Contest. The winning video and second, third and fourth-place winners were announced in November at the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference in Bloomington. Second place went to “Project Earth Solar Panels” by Isabel Dunning and Natalie Swanson, students at Edina High School; third place to “Solar in Morris” by Syd Bauer and Sam Yuan, students at the University of Minnesota, Morris; and fourth place to “The Future Energy Gang” by Marley and James of Minneapolis. The awards were coordinated by the Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) and supported and sponsored by MnSEIA and Sundial Solar. View the videos and learn more.

Conferences & Trainings

Energy Design Conference & Expo is Feb. 26-27 in Duluth

The 29th annual Energy Design Conference & Expo will be held Feb. 26-27 in Duluth to provide the latest in energy-efficient building and technologies, renewable energy, best practices, and responsible design. The conference, hosted by Minnesota Power, will feature more than 40 sessions from some of the best educators in the energy field and provides participants with opportunities to connect with peers and other energy-conscious attendees. Early-bird registration with discounted fees ends Feb. 1, 2019. To register and for details, read more.

GreenStep Cities workshop: Shared Mobility & Electric Vehicles, March 6

Minnesota GreenStep Cities on March 6 at 9 a.m. will host “Shared Mobility & Electric Vehicles: What We’ve Learned,” a workshop dedicated to shared mobility (think bike share programs), electric vehicles, and autonomous vehicles. City and tribal government staff, elected officials, and appointed officials are invited to attend this free workshop to learn more about this local government sustainability topic. Attend in person at the League of Minnesota Cities building in St. Paul or attend remotely via GoTo Meeting. Learn more.

Passive House Tradesperson Training offered April 2-5 in Golden Valley

Passive House Minnesota and the North American Passive House Network will offer the Certified Passive House Tradesperson training on April 2-5 in Golden Valley, Minn. This four-day course provides the knowledge and practical skills necessary to build to the most efficient and rigorous energy standard in the world. Open to all trade professionals—as well as designers and consultants—participants will learn how to implement passive principles in your own projects and everything else required to become a Passive House Institute (PHI) Certified Passive House Tradesperson (CPHT). For more information on registration, cost, and the training, read more.


Renewable News is a newsletter that covers a range of renewable energy topics, including innovative initiatives in our state, technological advancements, financial incentives, trainings, and events. If you would like to change preferences for the newsletters you are currently subscribed to or if you want to unsubscribe, please use the links at the bottom of this page.

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