Minnesota bill aims for 450 MW of solar by 2020

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Minnesota is set to pass a new law that could lead to more than 450 MW of solar power by 2020 and provide an immense boost to the U.S. state’s PV industry.

The current bill, passed last week by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by state Governor Mark Dayton in the coming days, will require privately owned utilities to have a minimum 1.5% share of solar power by 2020 and also sets a non-mandatory goal of achieving a 10% solar share by 2030. Minnesota current total solar output is 13 MW.

Municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives, which provide nearly half of the state’s electricity, would be exempt from the 1.5 percent solar requirement.

At least 10% of the solar power must be generated by systems of 20 kW or less. A five-year, $5 million per year fund will provide incentives for PV projects.

The law is also expected to support production-based incentives for systems that use solar modules manufactured in Minnesota and used on projects that generate 40 kW or less through a 10-year, $15 million a year scheme.

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Overall, the law is expected to increase the size of the state’s PV industry 40-fold, with an estimated 1,500 new jobs in the growing field.

Supporters of the solar standard are also reckoning with an increase in investor interest in the state’s burgeoning industry.

While the law would lead to major growth in the state’s PV sector, Minnesota is far behind the U.S.’ leading solar states: California ranked No. 1 with 1,033 MW last year in terms of annual installed PV capacity, followed by Arizona with 710 MW and New Jersey with 415 MW, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

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