Minnesota property owners can now increase the value of the sunlight that shines on their rooftops through the state's Made in Minnesota (MiM) Solar Incentive Program. The Made in Minnesota incentive pays a property owner for the solar energy produced over 10 years at a rate that provides a rapid payback on the owner's investment or payoff of financing, and then free solar energy for years to come.
The incentives are available through a lottery system, with an application deadline of February 28, 2015. The MiM program is through the Minnesota Department of Commerce and will run annually for 10 years; 2014 was the first year of the program and saw incentives provided to over 350 projects for about 5MW of residential and commercial solar energy. This incentive is available to customers of Xcel Energy, MN Power, Ottertail Power, and Alliant Energy.
To help property owners assess solar costs and benefits and meet the MiM application timeline, two Minnesota companies driving the state-wide solar economy, 3M and Silicon Energy, have partnered with Geostellar to add a MiM Fast Track option. The MiM Fast Track, available at www.geostellar.com/go/MiM, provides an instant estimate of the unique benefits of solar energy for each individual property if the Made in Minnesota incentive is applied, then automates the submission process, with personal online and phone support provided to the property owner by an experienced Solar Guide.
Gayle Schueller, 3M's vice president of global sustainability, said: "We want to encourage our community to benefit from those panels that are made right here in Minnesota."
3M, which expanded its revolutionary employee solar program to include friends and family, is now extending its reduced rates to all residents of Minnesota who participate in the MiM Fast Track. By providing a bulk purchase discount on the installed cost of the Made in Minnesota solar modules, the 3M solar program increases the financial benefits of solar energy to the property owner.
For the MiM Fast Track, Geostellar developed a custom simulation to model the benefits of Silicon Energy's Minnesota-made Voyageur modules. Because the Made in Minnesota incentive is based on the actual performance of the solar modules, Geostellar's instant assessment of rooftop solar production based on the slope, orientation and shading on the solar array, as well as the number of solar modules that can fit on each individual rooftop, is a valuable time-saver in the application process. With Silicon Energy modules, homeowners who are selected in the lottery will receive $0.37 for every kWh produced by the solar array over ten years, which on an average Minnesota home will add up to around $40,000 for an installation of 36 modules. Commercial and non-profit property owners will receive $0.35 per kWh, which will add up to about $160,000 in incentive payments for an installation of 145 solar modules. By comparison, the average residential cost of utility grid electricity in Minnesota is about $0.12 per kWh.
As the only national solar energy marketplace with an instant analysis of solar benefits based on installed costs, energy production, electric utility bills and local incentives, Geostellar is uniquely positioned to support Minnesota property owners interested in going solar. Geostellar manages all aspects of the solar energy installation, from system design to contracting and ongoing monitoring and maintenance, at the lowest possible cost to the property owner, increasing the benefits of solar energy for homes and workplaces. Key elements of the Geostellar platform applied in the MiM Fast Track were developed with an award from the US Department of Energy's SunShot incubator program.