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Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

New Report Shows that Solar, Wind, and Storage Can Competitively Power a Majority of Minnesota’s Electric Needs

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Media Contact: Dan Thiede,, 612-626-0556

New Report Shows that Solar, Wind, and Storage Can Competitively Power a Majority of Minnesota’s Electric Needs

Minnesota can produce 10 percent of its electricity from solar by 2025 and 70 percent from solar and wind by 2050 at generation costs comparable to natural gas.

Building additional solar and wind capacity coupled with energy curtailment is less expensive than building long-term or seasonal storage.


Thursday, November 15, 2018, Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota has been ambitious in meeting its renewable energy goals: the state hit its 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 goal early this year using wind, solar, biomass, and hydro power.

A report released today finds that Minnesota could achieve 10 percent solar by 2025 at costs comparable to natural gas generation. Further, the report finds that expected cost decreases in solar, wind, and storage will enable Minnesota to achieve 70 percent solar and wind by 2050 at costs comparable to natural gas generation.

The Solar Potential Analysis Report, prepared by Clean Power Research for the MN Solar Pathways Initiative, includes several scenarios that model future renewable energy generation costs.

“This report shows that a renewable energy future is not only possible in Minnesota, but that the generation cost of solar, wind, and storage is competitive with natural gas generation,” said Brian Ross with the Great Plains Institute. “We also learned that coupling additional solar and wind capacity with energy curtailment when production is not needed eliminates the need for costly seasonal energy storage,” added Josh Quinnell with Center for Energy and Environment.


Download the executive summary and full report at


Key findings from the report:

  1. Solar and wind can serve 70 percent of Minnesota’s electrical load in 2050. Solar and wind can serve 70 percent of Minnesota’s load at generation costs that are comparable to the levelized generation cost of new natural gas generation.
  2. Additional capacity coupled with energy curtailment is considerably less expensive than, and a viable alternative to, long-term or seasonal storage in a high renewables future. Declining costs of solar and wind generation (<$20/MWh) will enable solar and wind to be economically curtailed during periods of high production and low load.
  3. Using other flexible generation resources in limited amounts support a high renewables future. The strategic use of other generation resources during brief periods of low-solar and low-wind production will significantly reduce the storage, solar, and wind capacities needed to serve Minnesota’s hourly load, reducing the generation cost for 70 percent solar and wind by nearly half.
  4. Storage is an important part of a high renewables future; it expands the dispatch capabilities of wind and solar assets. Sufficient quantities of storage smooth out the intra-hour variability of solar and wind.
  5. Shifting of key flexible loads may further decrease generation costs. Load shifting of new electric vehicle and residential domestic hot water loads demonstrated a potential 10-20 percent decrease in generation costs by moving the consumption to different times in an hour, day, or week.


“The MN Solar Pathways Solar Potential Analysis Report demonstrates that it’s possible to find an economical pathway to higher renewable generation,” said Jeff Ressler, CEO of Clean Power Research. “Critical to this project was the use of time-correlated solar, wind and load generation datasets in advanced software tools to more precisely see the effects of different scenarios, such as varying amounts of solar, wind and storage capacities.”

Mark Ahlstrom with Energy Systems Integration Group and a Technical Committee member who contributed to the development of the report said, “The MN Solar Pathways Solar Potential Analysis approach is conservative but relevant, and there is a growing body of good work that shows that penetrations in the 70-80 percent renewable range are quite feasible and not unduly expensive. Best of all, we have the key technologies today to get to 70 percent renewable energy and to accommodate massive electrification of other energy sectors.”

About MN Solar Pathways: The initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, is a three-year project designed to explore least-risk, best-value strategies for meeting the State of Minnesota’s solar goals. As part of this aim, the Pathways Team is modeling renewable generation costs, examining ways to streamline interconnection, and evaluating technologies that can increase solar hosting capacity on the distribution grid.

MN Solar Pathways is led by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Great Plains Institute, Center for Energy and Environment, Clean Energy Resource Teams, and Clean Power Research. 20 other organizations, from utilities to advocacy groups and from corporations to local governments, have contributed their time and expertise in the review and creation of reports for the initiative. For more details about the MN Solar Pathways project, including published reports and a list of project partners, please visit                                                      [ON NEXT PAGE: ORGANIZATION DESCRIPTIONS]

About Clean Power Research: Clean Power Research® has delivered award-winning cloud software solutions to utilities and industry for more than 20 years. Our PowerClerk®, WattPlan® and SolarAnywhere® product families allow our customers to make sense of and thrive amid the energy transformation. Clean Power Research has offices in Napa, Calif., and Kirkland, Wash.

About the Great Plains Institute: A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) is transforming the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. GPI combines a unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge, research and analysis, and local action to find and implement lasting energy solutions.

About Center for Energy and Environment: Center for Energy and Environment is a clean energy nonprofit with special expertise in energy efficiency that stretches back nearly 40 years. CEE provides a range of practical and cost-effective energy solutions for homes, businesses, and communities to strengthen the economy while improving the environment. 

About Clean Energy Resource Teams: A statewide university, nonprofit, and governmental partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects.

About Minnesota Department of Commerce: The Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources administers the state’s energy programs and policies. The Commerce Department’s mission is to protect consumers and ensure a strong, competitive, and fair marketplace.



Rochester Public Utilities announces Community Solar Program and Kickoff Informational Meetings

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) announces a new community solar program named SOLARCHOICE.

The SOLARCHOICE community solar program is an alternative to rooftop solar. It allows residential customers the opportunity to join in the solar movement without having to install solar on their property. It opens up solar participation to customers who:

  • Want to participate in solar but are unable to do so due to current restrictions.
  • Share a passion for solar energy resources and believe community solar is right for them.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), nationwide, only 25% of residential rooftops are suitable for solar, so rooftop solar is not an option for these customers. Community solar generally requires a lower upfront cost, eliminates the installation hassle, and removes the burden and risk of ongoing maintenance. Larger, utility-scale solar gardens capture economies of scale that are then passed on to program participants.

Instead of putting panels on their own roof, customers subscribe to a large solar project called a community solar garden with thousands of panels. Customers purchase subscriptions, along with many other residents who share their commitment to renewable energy, for the energy produced by one or more panels in the community solar garden. Each month the customer receives an energy (kWh) credit for the solar electricity generated by the subscribed panel(s) for the term of the subscriptions. RPU will offer a 12-year subscription plan for $650 per panel. Each panel is expected to average 501 kWh per year.

“After gathering research and listening to our customers about their desire for renewable energy options, we are proud to offer SOLARCHOICE”, said RPU General Manager Mark Kotschevar.

The SOLARCHOICE community solar garden is planned to be built in Princeton, MN on a site near the municipal airport once 25% of the planned community solar garden is under subscription by customers of RPU and other SMMPA Member utilities.

Customers who want to learn more about SOLARCHOICE community solar can attend one of the informational meetings scheduled for June 15 from 6-7pm or June 20 from 1-2pm at the RPU Service Center (4000 East River Road NE). Additional information can also be found at

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 36,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.



Hear what RPU’s GM Mark Kotschevar has to say about his participation in Project Climate Smart Municipalities

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Good news for solar wannabes: Congress extends 30% federal tax credit for residential solar installations

Friday, February 19th, 2016

There is great news for consumers planning a solar energy system in the next few years, as well as for businesses and workers in the solar industry.

Last month Congress extended the 30 percent personal federal tax credit for residential solar energy systems for three years with passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act., signed into law by President Obama. It extends the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit for solar until Dec. 31, 2019, followed by a two-year step down in the credit. The tax credit was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

The extension means “a taxpayer may claim a credit of 30 percent of qualified expenditures for a solar system that serves a dwelling located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer.” The system must be placed in service by Dec. 31, 2019. Expenditures include labor costs for onsite preparation, assembly or original systems installation, and piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home.

The tax credit value will decrease to 26 percent for systems in service in 2020 and 22 percent for systems in service by 2021.

The tax credit extension covers solar electric (photovoltaic) and solar thermal technologies (solar water heating) only. It was not extended for residents applying other technologies such as wind, fuel cells, and geothermal heat pumps. The credit does not apply for solar water heating for swimming pools and hot tubs.

The federal tax credit, combined with other incentives, makes solar a more affordable clean energy option for many people. A taxpayer who installs a solar energy system and receives the 30 percent tax credit may also qualify for other incentives, such as the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program or Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Program.

Details are available at Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. Congress also extended the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit for businesses that install solar technologies. To learn if your utility offers a rebate or other incentive for a solar energy system, and for information on other incentives for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at

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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

Make Mine Solar Program Workshop July 24

Friday, July 20th, 2012

On Tuesday, July 24, 2012 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) will host a workshop at Cascade Meadow on their Solar Hot Water/Air Heat Group Purchasing Program, Make Mine Solar.  Participants will learn the basics of energy efficiency, solar hot water and solar air heat technology, how the group purchase program works, rebates, incentives and financing.

Everyone will get a chance to meet the installers and talk to them one on one about their project. It is recommended participants get a site assessment before the workshop so they can bring it along to demonstrate their site better to the installers.

Visit the MRES website for more information and to register.