Minnesota Utility Takes Baby Steps Toward Broadening Community Solar Access

Approve this Project (with Caveats)

  • It provides access without credit scoring
  • The project is located close to subscribers
  • There’s a potential for job training, in the operations and maintenance phase
  • It integrates with energy efficiency efforts
  • It incorporates trusted and experienced community organizations
  • The 5-year participation terms and upfront enrollment costs are reasonable
  • Total savings are low. In its pilot community solar program in New York, Consolidated Edison is offering low-income participants savings on the order of $5 per month, more than twice the potential savings in Minnesota. The New York Public Service Commission deemed even this savings too low, and asked the utility to find additional savings for participants. Pay-as-you-go subscriptions from third parties such as Cooperative Energy Futures have offered no-upfront payment savings increasing from 6% to over 40% on a 25-year subscription (with compensation based on the applicable retail rate). In the transition to value of solar, we hope that the compensation for low-income participants is comparable to that of other community solar subscribers.
  • Subscription sizes ought to be larger. In its work on low-income community solar projects, GRID Alternatives Colorado offers average subscription sizes of 5 kilowatts, sufficient to offset half of the typical customer’s electricity bill. With zero upfront costs and an opportunity to reduce public assistance, we hope that most participants subscribe to a sufficient portion to substantially reduce or eliminate their electric bill. Broader participation should not be sought at the expense of individual savings.
  • Although not essential with a pilot this small, future utility-owned low-income community solar projects should be subject to competitive bid, as is Consolidated Edison’s community solar pilot in New York.

Note the Inadequacy

Emphasize that Renewable Energy Saves Customers Money

Expand On-Bill Collection

Improve Upon Iteration

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The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. To reach this, we build local power to fight corporate control

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