The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) celebrated the passage of a historic $80 million investment in solar + energy storage incentive programs by the Minnesota legislature. Clean energy received an unprecedented level of interest, support and forward momentum this legislative session. MnSEIA is excited to see that the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources, Climate and Energy Finance and Policy bill (HF 2310) includes budget items for:
- $29.3 million in funding for the popular Solar for Schools program that saves school districts and local property tax payers thousands of dollars every year;
- $7 million for Minnesota’s first energy storage incentive program for on-site energy storage systems;
- $5 million for a Solar on Public Buildings program to increase solar access to a wider range of Minnesota’s communities;
- $4.2 million for the National Sports Center in Blaine to add solar and save thousands on monthly energy costs;
- $12.5 million in funding for Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program;
- $3.4 million for the University of St. Thomas Center for Microgrid Research;
- $10.2 million for distributed energy upgrade grants to improve interconnection timelines;
- $5.3 million for electric grid resiliency grants;
- $3 million for MnSEIA member Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) for their “Energy Alley Initiative;”
- $250,000 for an energy storage system capacity study evaluating the amount of energy storage required to achieve the state’s new 100% carbon free standard;
- $420,000 for a multi-agency study and report on developing a statewide system to reuse and recycle solar panels.
The bill also makes a number of important policy changes, including:
- Community Solar Garden program updates that will expand the existing market and create new opportunities through a legacy program;
- Distributed Generation (DG) Standard that requires all investor owned utilities to meet a certain percentage (1 to 3% depending on the utility) of their energy procurement through DG solar by 2030. This is estimated to add roughly 800 MW of new solar to the grid;
- “Customer bill of rights” legislation that places certain restrictions on Homeowners Associations trying to limit solar and allows utility customers to request their energy usage data from utilities and places. This will give the 1 in 4 Minnesotans who live in an HOA the freedom to go solar.
Other energy-related items in the bill include funding for workforce training, electric vehicle rebates, a State Competitiveness Fund designed to match federal grants for renewable energy projects and more.
“It’s a new era for solar and energy storage in Minnesota,” said MnSEIA’s executive director Logan O’Grady. “The policies created in this Legislative Session will set off a historic boom for clean energy in our state. It’s a huge signal to the country that Minnesota is serious about solar and that we’re a great market to do business in. Lawmakers just created hundreds of family-sustaining jobs and exciting opportunities for small businesses. This is a truly monumental Legislative Session and MnSEIA is proud to have advocated for our members and the solar + storage industry. The future of solar just got a whole lot brighter and MnSEIA is looking forward to ushering in this new era.”
The bill is expected to be signed by the governor in the coming days.
News item from MnSEIA