2017 has been a banner year so far for the Minnesota solar industry.
The state’s largest utility commissioned a more than 62 MW solar farm in January. Then the legislature introduced a bill in February designed to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030. And in March, Gov. Mark Dayton saved solar customers from excessive fees by vetoing a bill that would have exempted electric co-operatives from rate regulation.
All of which has jump-started the solar industry. As pv magazine reported, Minnesota had installed 203 MW-DC by the end of March and expects to reach more than 800 MW of installed capacity by the end of this year. And today NRG Energy, a New Jersey-based energy behemoth, is getting in on the action, as it opens 32 MW of community solar projects, spread across seven plants, including:
- Forest Lake Project in Washington County – 5 MW-AC;
- Farmington Project in Dakota County – 5 MW-AC;
- Pine Island Project in Goodhue County – 3.9 MW-AC;
- Highway 14 Project in Olmstead County – 5 MW-AC;
- Dodge Project in Dodge County – 5 MW-AC;
- Webster Project in Rice County – 5 MW-AC; and
- Wabasha Project in Wabasha County – 3 MW-AC.
NRG reports the energy produced will power the homes of more than 1,000 Minnesota residents, as well as more than a dozen large Minnesota businesses and municipalities. Some of those customers include:
- U.S. Banks;
- Land O’Lakes;
- Red Wing Shoe Co.; and
The company says it’s thrilled to join the solar revolution taking place in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
“Across Minnesota we are hearing the same strong message from residents and businesses alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Drew Warshaw, vice president of community solar for NRG. “Community solar gives them that opportunity — a simple, cost-effective path for residents and businesses to go solar without having to put panels on their roofs.”
NRG currently has 40 MW of community under construction in Minnesota, with more in the development stages.