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Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

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.

AU, OPU, and RPU Announce New Solar Rebate Program

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010





Date:               September 7, 2010          

Contact:         Tony Benson, RPU





AU, OPU, and RPU Announce New Solar Rebate Program


ROCHESTER, Minn.— Austin Utilities (AU), Owatonna Public Utilities (OPU), and Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), are pleased to announce the Conserve and Save Solar rebate program available to residential and commercial customers that install either a solar electric or solar hot water system.  In offering this rebate, AU, OPU, and RPU hope to encourage the growth of solar energy in their communities, while at the same time capturing energy savings that the systems will provide for their conservation improvement programs.


The Conserve and Save Solar rebate is a onetime payment of $1 per installed watt for solar electric systems and $15 per square foot net aperture for solar hot water systems. To qualify for the solar electric rebate, participants must sign an interconnection agreement with their utility. At the installation site, participants must also have completed an energy audit and a shading analysis to show that systems will not be affected by shade. 


“Solar technologies work best in an energy efficient home or building.  Adding insulation and energy efficient lighting, appliances, heating and cooling systems, is vital before considering solar technologies,” said Roger Warehime, Owatonna Public Utilities.   “For this reason, customers must conduct an energy audit on the solar installation site in order to qualify for the rebate.”


The program will benefit both our customers and the environment,” said Larry Koshire, Rochester Public Utilities General Manager. “One 2.5 kilowatt photovoltaic system produces enough renewable energy each year to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced from driving a car more than 5,889 miles. Also, when we buy your excess energy, we’re adding renewable energy to our grid and, therefore, reducing emissions.”


The Conserve and Save Solar rebate is available in conjunction with the 30% federal tax credit for solar technologies and is available on a first come first served basis.


AU, OPU, and RPU are municipal utilities serving their respective communities in Southeast Minnesota with electric, gas and water service (gas service is not available in Rochester).  Their nine year old marketing partnership builds brand awareness and promotes energy efficiency.  “Conserve & Save” is one way they are “Teaming Up to Save You Money.”