On May 24, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota signed into law an energy bill that is projected to greatly increase the state’s solar energy capacity by the end of the decade. Specifically, all utilities in the state must procure 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar generation by 2020, in addition to Minnesota’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 25 percent by 2025. Thus Minnesota’s RPS is now effectively 26.5 percent by 2025. To learn more details about Minnesota’s RPS, click on the state in the C2ES map of state Renewable and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.
Although 1.5 percent may seem low, compared to Minnesota’s existing solar capacity it is actually quite high. Currently, Minnesota has 13 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity, but in order to reach the 1.5 percent standard, the state will have to increase its solar capacity to 450 MW, more than a 30-fold increase. Thirteen other states have solar requirements, or “carve-outs,” five of which have percentage requirements higher than Minnesota. The states with the highest solar requirements are Colorado and New Mexico, each requiring four percent of electricity sold in the respective state to come from solar energy by 2020.
In addition to requiring that 1.5 percent of electricity come from solar resources, HF 956 also includes other solar energy initiatives. The law mandates that the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, begin a community solar garden program, in which people can own shares of a remote solar energy system and earn credit on their utility bill as if the solar panels were on their own homes. In addition, the law increases the maximum capacity for a net meter from 40 kilowatts to 1000 kilowatts, meaning owners of large solar panel arrays, such as large retail stores, can now be credited for electricity they put back on the grid, reducing their electricity bills. Lastly, the law also mentions a non-mandatory, state-wide goal of 10 percent solar by 2030.
Another energy bill was recently introduced in Minnesota that would increase the state’s RPS to 40 percent by 2030. This move would make Minnesota’s RPS one of the highest in the country.
For more information:
C2ES: Renewable Energy - Solar
C2ES: State RPS and AEPS Details
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota’s new solar law: Looking beyond percentages
PV-Tech: Minnesota bill will boost solar from 13 MW to 450MW