While many states have implemented community solar programs, Minnesota has been well and above the leader, by any metric. Despite a two-year delay between the launch of the program and the first projects going online, this month Minnesota reached 300 MW of community solar in the territory of Xcel Energy, according to data compiled by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR).
89 MW of community solar went online in the first quarter of this year alone, an increase on the 68 MW in the first quarter of 2017. In addition to this, ILSR reports that another 381 MW of solar projects are either in the design phase or under construction.
And while most of the customers are individuals and families offsetting their home electricity use with solar, at 92% of all subscribers as of January, most of the benefit of the program is going to Minnesota businesses. ILSR reports that 86% of all capacity is dedicated to commercial and industrial customers under the “general service” category, with another 1% to “small general service”, and only 10% for residential customers.
GTM Research has reported that community solar is a bright spot in the U.S. solar market, with both the utility-scale and residential solar sectors declining year-over-year in 2017.