Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Rochester Public Utilities announces Community Solar Program and Kickoff Informational Meetings

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.