Minnesota utility to triple residential solar rebates, build first solar garden

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Minnesota utility to triple residential solar rebates, build first solar garden

June 3, 2016

Growing interest in solar energy has led Minnesota Power to propose an expansion of its SolarSense program, with the biggest news being the utility would triple the pool of money available for rebates.

The utility wants to grow rebate funds to approximately $1 million annually for the next three years, "effectively tripling the rebate dollars available to customers for installation of solar systems at their homes and businesses."  A typical residential customer installing a 5 kW solar system would receive roughly $6,000 rebates, the utility said. That would help bring down system costs by about 30%.

Expansions to the solar outreach program will also include  a new solar pilot program for low-income customers, as well as funding for solar education and outreach, research and development, and program development.

“Our customers’ interest in solar energy continues to grow and there are multiple ways we are seeking to respond to this trend based on individual customer preferences,” said Tina Koecher, manager of customer solutions for Minnesota Power. “Expanding the SolarSense program, for example, will allow us to provide additional incentives and expertise to people who have homes or businesses in locations with plenty of sun and want to produce solar energy on site.”

The utility's proposed community solar garden, which aims to give access to customers who either can't or don't want to install panels, was also approved by state regulators this week.

"We’ve seen steadily growing interest in solar energy in our region and based on the success of this pilot program, additional community solar gardens could be offered to our customers in the future," said Margaret Hodnik, the utility's vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs.

SOURCE:  UtilityDive

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