Update on Minnesota Power’s SolarSense Program
On October 6, 2022, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a hearing regarding Minnesota Power and their SolarSense program. MNIPL participated with organizational partners Sierra Club, Vote Solar, and Solar United Neighbors. Additional parties participating in the hearing were Fresh Energy, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Minnesota Solar Electric Industries Association (MnSEIA), and Minnesota Power.
We intervened in this case for 2 main reasons.
1) We want to make more rooftop solar incentives available to the public in northeastern Minnesota. This would accelerate a transition to cleaner power and also ensure the benefits of that power remain as localized as possible.
2) We also advocated for program rule and process changes in both the solar rebate and low-income solar grant programs. We want them to be more accessible, transparent, and clear—to better ensure fairness in the efficient distribution of those funds.
We feel the commissioners heard our requests with open minds, and seriously considered them. However, the end results were mixed.
Minnesota Power and the PUC declined to place more funding into the solar rebate program, but they did agree to almost all the program process changes we had advocated for.
We’d like to thank Fresh Energy for their tremendous assistance in this case, and the MN Department of Commerce for their interest in clear and transparent utility processes that serve Minnesotans. We’d also like to thank MnSEIA for the advocacy for more solar rooftop funding, and Minnesota Power for agreeing to many of our suggested process changes.
While we are greatly disappointed that incentive funding for local solar projects was not increased, this only makes us more determined. We will continue to work for locally site (and owned) solar projects in northern Minnesota and throughout our state so our communities can realize the full benefits of clean energy. We must all do our part to fight climate change and preserve our beautiful home.
—Bret Pence, Greater Minnesota Director, MNIPL