Solar Cells Info

Your Ad Here

Pagevisits since Nov. 8,2006:

Solar power gets boost from stimulus and new laws in Minnesota

June 21st, 2009 by kalyan89 in Press Releases, Reports, PV Industry - America, R&D reports

By John Croman, Saint Paul, MN 

The sun is shining again for Minnesota’s long suffering solar power advocates, thanks in large part to action by state lawmakers to capitalize on federal stimulus money targeted to renewable energy.  State Senator Ellen Anderson stood in front of a large mobile array of solar panels atop the Capitol steps Thursday and predicted the 2009 session will do for solar what the 1994 session did for wind power. “Today we’d like to announce we’re kicking off the solar energy revolution in Minnesota!” the Saint Paul Democrat told a group of alternative energy supporters and media who gathered for an event highlighting the new initiative.  “If you’re a homeowner and you want to install solar you can get rebates of up to $10,000 to put solar on your home,” Anderson remarked, “Pair that up with a federal tax credit and you are good part of the way toward paying for your solar installation.”

At least $25 million in stimulus money has also been set aside for grants to businesses, schools, government and economic development agencies seeking to create projects that incorporate solar or other renewable technology. Christopher Childs, a longtime renewable energy advocate and solar homeowner, told KARE he was really gratified to see years of work and grassroots lobbying on behalf of solar begin to pay off in Minnesota.

“It makes us feel we’re justified,” Childs explained, “That we were right all along and there really is something here and it’s something that can be shared now with an awful lot of people, including people who couldn’t afford it before.”  He’s confident that the 3-kilowatt array on the roof of his 1911 home on Saint Paul’s west side will eventually pay for itself in terms of saved energy. But he sees beyond his own bottom line. “I think of it as a capital investment,” Childs said, “Those panels are sitting on the roof of my house and they’ll be producing power for probably 50 years.”  “I’ll be gone before they stop producing power.”

Seeing Solar
Judy Poferl, a regional vice president for Xcel Energy, pointed out that the company is now the single largest producer of wind energy and welcomes the opportunity to harness homegrown sun power.  “The great thing about solar is it’s going to make renewables very visible to most of our customers,” Poferl told reporters noting that most consumers don’t get to drive past the wind generator farms in rural parts of the state.

“Here people will be going down the street and, if our vision comes to life, the Central Corridor is going to have solar panels up and down and customers will actually see this is where we get our energy.” That was a reference to a plan to turn University Avenue in Saint Paul into a “solar showcase” which, among other things, will help power the new light rail line planned there. “It is ground breaking,” Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said, “It is remarkable. And it will be a national model.”

“Years from now we will look back on this legislative session and say there was something very fundamental that happened.”  Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who is planning a huge solar installation on the roof of the Minneapolis Convention Center, called this a milestone for the state.  “This is our moment right now,” Rybak asserted, “We’re talking about the sun, but we’re also talking about jobs!”  “This is the way we change our climate, and this is the way we make sure Minnesota is THE center of renewable energy in the world.”

Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul have been recognized as Solar America Cities by the Department of Energy, and have launched an initiative to increase the solar capacity of the Twin Cities by 500 percent in the next two years. The solar effort features partnerships with a wide spectrum of interest groups and utilities.  The list includes Xcel, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, the Green Institute, Fresh Energy, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, League of Minnesota Cities, freEner-g, District Energy, Center for Energy and Environment and the Neighborhood Energy Connection.

The eclectic crowd that gathered at the Capitol led Rybak to quip, “Senator Senator (Scott) Dibble just said to me we’ve got the whole ‘renewable energy mafia’ out there. If there’s any mafia I want to be part of it’s you, the people out there who have done phenomenal work.”
The Minnesota Office of Energy Security will coordinate most of the stimulus grants.