Minnesota's PV market heats up


But this winter, the North Star State’s climate for solar appears to be heating up.

On Tuesday, engineering and construction company Mortenson and community solar specialist SunShare announced an agreement to develop and build an undisclosed volume of solar projects in utility Xcel Energy’s service territory in Minnesota.

SolarShare will develop, finance and own the projects. Power generated will be sold to customers of Xcel as part of a community solar program.

"Minnesota’s community solar program dramatically expands the ability for companies, governmental entities and residents to utilize solar," stated Trent Mostaert, vice president and general manager at Mortenson. "This is a great partnership and an opportunity for Mortenson to work with SunShare, a leading community solar company, and bring our significant solar experience home to Minnesota."

The announcement comes a week after the utility said it planned to more than double its renewable energy by 2030. As part of that, Xcel also said it planned to expand its solar portfolio to 2.4 GW from 14 MW.

Also on Tuesday, St. Paul-based Ecolab Inc. announced that the company would power all of its operations in the state with solar through a deal with SunEdison.

A representative for the California-based company said the 16 MW agreement with Ecolab is just the first stage of its plan to supply 200 MW at up to 20 sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The Ecolab deal will see SunEdison develop "community solar garden" projects. This type of installation allows for an array’s output and ownership to be shared amongst individuals or companies.