Two states best known for developing wind and biofuels, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have proved a test case for whether solar can claim a place in an electricity market traditionally dominated by large, rate-based utilities.
The Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is building a series of community solar gardens that will together generate 5.6 megawatts of electricity, including one at a Catholic church in suburban Minneapolis. The new solar garden in Edina, Minnesota, will be turned on in 2018 as the first step in a national movement to generate electricity from the sun. The cooperative Energy futures has installed 1,926 solar panels and leased the roof area to the city of Edina for a 25-year lease for a 618 kW solar garden. Energy futures has leased and installed over 2,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels in Edinburgh, Minnesota, and rents out over 4,500 square feet of rooftop solar panels in St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
Geronimo is also developing the Aurora solar project in Minnesota and is on track to generate more than 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the state by the end of the year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The state has completed nearly 280 megawatts of solar power, he said, and that number does not include municipal solar projects.
In Minnesota alone, Geronimo Energy has developed 16 ongoing wind and solar projects and a 160 MW wind and solar project currently under construction. That megawatt represents more than 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the state by the end of the year, including the Aurora Solar Project, a 1.5 megawatt project in Wright County. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the state utility commission is expected to decide next month whether or not to build the first phase of a 2,500 MW wind turbine in St. Paul. A total of 16 counties - including Wright and McLeod - are planning their own wind projects in addition to those being developed by Geronsimos Energy, according to the DNR.
In 2013, Minnesota legislators passed an energy bill that directed Xcel to run a small solar-energy promotion program that provides production-based incentives. While the environmental benefits of solar power in Dubuque are undisputed, Iowa utilities believe that Eagle Point's DubUque solar deal, as originally designed and executed, violates the state's laws governing the way electricity is delivered to Iowa's electricity suppliers. Although not binding on the Commission, this legal opinion raises questions about the role of the state in the main solar market, which has not traditionally been involved in this state.
In Minnesota, solar installations purchased after August 1, 2005, are exempt from the state sales tax. Personal property consisting of a solar and energy generating plant will be exempt from property tax from 2015. The areas on which the solar plants are located will continue to be subject to property tax, but only for the first year of operation.
Participants can cover part of their electricity needs with solar energy from the garden and usually save money. Solar panels for residential areas generate electricity when sunlight is present, regardless of the time at which the electricity is consumed. Eligible are hybrid solar lights that use solar energy to illuminate the interior of structures using fiber optics to distribute sunlight. The exemption is therefore very far-reaching and could apply to a wide range of residential and commercial buildings, as well as commercial and industrial buildings.
Solar panels may be more expensive to build on the front, but they have a useful life of over 30 years. Although solar is not a cost-effective way to generate electricity, utilities in Edina have invested heavily in it over the past decade. One of the largest solar panels in the world in the United States has been in operation since 1986, and the same effectiveness can work for any of our homes.
In Edina, a 1 kW solar panel installed on a house will generate about 1250 kWh of energy per year. Normally, solar panels that generate 280 watts on rooftops are used for a total of about 1,000 kWh of electricity per year, or about 2.5 megawatts. Eligible properties of solar energy include installations that use solar energy to generate electricity, heat a structure, provide hot water for use or provide solar process heat.
There are more than 850 solar panels in the United States, and according to the Solar Foundation, new solar projects are launched every week. The industry will create 410 new jobs this year, increasing the number of solar workers by 20 percent, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Foundation. Basic research on solar energy and its impact on the economy is large enough to be easily applied to employment trends in the United States.
For more information, get online by providing the best commercial and industrial solar solutions to businesses and organizations in Minneapolis - businesses, housing companies, and nonprofits, including houses of worship, can benefit from our program to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout Minnesota. We have an unparalleled experience and team that helps educate Minnesotans about solar energy in the community, and like many other clean energy organizations, we promote it. SunPower is a leading provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions in the Twin Cities. We have installed over 1,000 solar power plants and are focused on leading providers of high quality, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions.