SolarCity to develop 100 MW of community solar in Minnesota

While community solar is relatively established in the market, SolarCity has partnered with Sunrise Energy Ventures to roll out a variant of its leasing model utilizing solar “gardens”. The plan will see potential subscribers given the opportunity to purchase electricity, in a virtual fashion, from a community solar array for US$0.13/kWh for up to 25 years.

The program is being rolled out to customers of utility Xcel Energy. Subscribers will be credited with US$0.147/kWh of electricity purchased through the SolarCity scheme.

SolarCity says that a saving of 11.5% will result immediately for subscribers to the program, which remain customers of Xcel Energy.

Minnesota’s Wright and Sherburne counties will host the solar arrays, which will be developed, owned and operated by SolarCity.

SolarCity says that it will reserve subscriptions to the program to the 600,000 apartment renters in Minnesota. The scheme is a variant on “solar for renters” programs offered by companies such as Mosaic.

"The State of Minnesota and its Public Utilities Commission have made a significant contribution to the proliferation of solar power by passing solar garden legislation," said Jesse Jones, SolarCity’s vice president of development and acquisitions. "They’ve also made it possible for subscribers to have an involvement with locally-generated clean power, rather than a credit for or certificate representing solar kilowatts generated far, far away."

SolarCity says that along with serving renters and apartment dwellers, the program can also be a good fit for households whose roofs are inappropriate for a solar array.

The scheme follows an earlier project announced by SunShare, which recently announced its own community gardens program with Xcel Energy.