Big Solar Wins in Minnesota 

The 2024 Minnesota legislative came to a close at the end of May with some major wins that expand access to solar for all Minnesotans.

The Omnibus Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Utilities, Environment and Climate bill was signed into law and will improve local rooftop solar permitting, address interconnection barriers, and provide sustained funding for solar incentive programs that include incentives for low-wealth communities. Minnesotans deserve a future with air they can breathe, abundant energy, and a future that is just and equitable and they got one step closer with these important policy changes.

Here is a breakdown of the three major wins we saw in this year’s Omnibus legislation, and how the change will impact community members’ clean energy future.

  1. Breaking down barriers related to Interconnection: Homeowners, small businesses and community solar garden subscribers wanting to go solar have increasingly been denied interconnection by Xcel Energy or have been hit with hefty fees. This has slowed the growth of solar and added to the cost.

    An important change we saw this session will streamline and speed up the process of connecting solar systems to the energy grid. Accelerating this process will also lead to cost savings for customers, reducing the financial burden on projects that trigger a need for grid improvements to go solar.

    In addition, the final bill created an “ombudsman” for interconnection – a position to facilitate “efficient and fair resolution of disputes between customers seeking to interconnect and utilities.” This person will oversee disputes related to connecting distributed generation to the grid, something that has been a missing piece of the puzzle in Minnesota when it comes to lowering costs and accelerating renewable energy deployment. 
  2. The SolarApp+, increasing affordability and accessibility: The omnibus legislation allocates $2 million to the State program to promote and support local communities in adopting SolarAPP+, a web-based automated solar and storage permitting tool developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. SolarAPP+ offers a standardized and rapid online permitting process for rooftop solar, reducing permitting time to minutes. By simplifying the solar permitting procedures, solar energy will be more affordable and accessible for all Minnesotans. 
  3. SolarRewards 10-year extension: The legislation also secured $5 million annually for ten years from the state’s Renewable Development Account starting in 2026 to fund Solar Rewards. This program gives Xcel customers an incentive to go solar. It also provides incentives to low-wealth homeowners and nonprofits and businesses that serve low-wealth households. Half of this funding has been used to provide incentives for solar owned by or providing benefits to financially-disadvantaged communities. 

Minnesota has already committed to a 100% clean energy goal. By streamlining the permitting process and removing unnecessary red tape, these policy wins represent major strides toward achieving our clean energy future! Let’s keep up the momentum toward a future that is just, equitable, and bright.

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