As a homeowner, you can go solar in two ways: installing solar panels on your residential property's building(s) or subscribing to a nearby community solar garden.
Installing solar panels on your home allows you to receive your electricity directly from the sun for free. Most utilities also pay you an additional incentive for the electricity you generate. Xcel, for instance, pays customers 7 cents per watt for the first 10 years of your array. Additionally, you receive a federal tax credit of 26% of the cost of your array. Minneapolis residents may qualify for additional incentives. These cost savings mean an exceptional return on investing in a solar array.
The best way for homeowners to go solar is to join a solar co-op. MNIPL has partnered with Solar United Neighbors (SUN) to offer two area solar co-ops — in the Twin Cities metro and in the Duluth/Arrowhead area.
A solar co-op connects you with other homeowners in your area to get better pricing from installers and take advantage of SUN's market knowledge and expertise. Joining a solar co-op is free and does not obligate you to purchase an array. MNIPL and SUN offer this service because our mission is to get more people into renewable energy to solve the climate crisis.
Learn more by watching this recording of a information session:
"Share the Sun" Crowdfunding Campaign
Help share the power of rooftop solar with low-income families in Duluth and Grand Marais, Minn! A new crowdsourcing effort called "Share the Sun" has launched out of a collaboration between MNIPL, Solar United Neighbors (SUN) and others. Watch news coverage from WDIO/ABC Duluth featuring an interview with MNIPL's Bret Pence.
The federal government provides a 26% tax credit for homeowners who install solar. This leaves out many low-income families who are unable to use the tax credit because they do not have enough annual income to take the credit. Community funding projects like "Share the Sun" can fill in until federal policy changes to include lower income families.
Community Solar Garden (CSG)
If your home is heavily shaded or otherwise less suitable for installing a direct array, you can go solar by subscribing to a community solar garden. These are large arrays that multiple households buy into for some or all of their electricity. CSGs provide savings over standard (fossil fuel) generated electricity, but not as much as home installed arrays.
In Minnesota, you are required to live in the same or adjacent county to where the array is installed. CSG developers typically install these large arrays in rural areas where land is less expensive. For this reason, no CSGs are currently available for Ramsey and Hennepin County customers. However, we expect that in Fall of 2021, subscriptions for Minneapolis customers will become available through our partner Cooperative Energy Futures.