The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Minnesota Power’s 15-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which calls for 100% renewable energy by 2050 with 300 MW of solar generation and 700 MW of new wind projects over the next five years.
The framework detailed under parent company Allete’s IRP plan, called EnergyForward, dates back to early 2021. The current IRP more than doubles the amount of renewable energy to enter the state’s energy mix from the prior 2021 proposal that called for 200 MW of solar and 200 MW of wind development.
Minnesota Power devised a Solar Energy Standard protocol in 2013, which, in addition to statewide wind, hydro and biomass resources, positions stakeholder groups in the state to support three pillars for solar growth:
- Customer-maintaining relationships and providing incentive and education programs;
- Community-enabling customer access to solar energy options and promoting community development;
- Utility-implementing efficient resources into the customer power supply.
(*Text of the 2021 MN IRP can be found here.)
The utility met its June 2020 SES portfolio standard after proposing 33 MW of new solar projects across three installations, with Camp Ripley Solar (10 MW) installed in April 2017. Three additional projects, Laskin Solar (9.6 MW), Sylvan Solar (10 MW), Duluth Solar (1.6 MW), will be operational in the coming months.
Since launching a community solar program in January 2018, the utility said the state still sees a waitlist for subscriptions into the program with 1.04 MW of fully subscribed solar assets, so there is growing demand for the construction of new community solar projects.
Minnesota Power continues to support the C&I solar market by providing distributed generation rebates of $0.56/kW for the first year of project operations and a $10,000 maximum under the state’s SolarSense rebate program for projects up to 20 kW of total capacity.
According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), the state’s SolarSense program awarded approximately $175,349 in rebates in 2022 for C&I development.
In Q3 2022, Minnesota catapulted up to 15th in the Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) statewide solar rankings from 29th place in 2021, with 1.7 GW of deployments through Q3 2022 and installing 111.1 MW of new projects in 2021. The state ranks 17th in the country for jobs with 4,570 employed in the solar market and 147 solar companies operating in the state.
Minnesota Power, owned by Allete, provides electric services to more than 145,000 customers in a 260,000 square mile territory in northeast Minnesota from north of St. Cloud to International Falls and Duluth to the east.
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