Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a bill into law that mandates a significant increase in solar power by the end of the decade. Included in the bill is a requirement for Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL), the state's largest energy utility, to begin work on a community solar gardens program by next year.
Community solar gardens offer customers with roofs that aren't strong enough or angled correctly for solar panels to purchase a single cell in a group of solar panels, reports Minnesota Energy News. The energy generated from the solar panels will then be credited to the account of the owner. The use of solar gardens also makes the installation and maintenance of solar panels easier to afford.
The bill’s central requirement, that all investor owned utilities get 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar, is anticipated to expand solar power in the state from today’s 13 MW to 450 MW by 2020, according to a press release from Environment Minnesota. Included in the bill are also measures that will help individuals and businesses finance other environmental projects.
Solar developers Applied Energy Innovations and MN Community Solar announced they will be developing the very first community solar garden in Minneapolis, through a partnership with Lake Street business Northern Sun Merchandising. The rooftop project will have a capacity of 40 kilowatts, enough to power 8-10 homes.