Diana McKeown: How do you describe the Made in Minnesota Solar Program to people?

Kim Havey: Made in Minnesota (MiM) is a program designed to grow jobs within the solar industry in Minnesota and support the installation of solar PV and thermal for residents and businesses. The program is ideally designed for residential and business rooftop solar installations but also can be used for ground mounted installations, which is ideal for farms. Legislation in 2013 launched MiM, with two existing solar PV manufacturers but now the program includes four Minnesota based PV manufacturers and a broad range of solar modules.

Diana McKeown: Which solar technologies are supported by the MiM program, and do they differ by geography?

Kim Havey: The 2013 Made in Minnesota solar incentive program to includes both locally built solar thermal air heating collectors as well as solar electric PV.

Four solar electric PV modules now qualify as MiM: Heliene works in Saint Paul with Simple Ray; Itek Energy opened a location in Minneapolis; Silicon Energy operates a manufacturing plant in Mountain Iron; and tenKsolar in is Bloomington.

Solar thermal manufacturers qualifying for MiM include Energy Conservation and Products and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance.

As far as geography is concerned, for the PV program, applicants must be served by one of the three investor-owned utilities in Minnesota: Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power Company, and Xcel Energy. The thermal program, on the other hand, is available to everyone in the state regardless of their electric service provider.

Diana McKeown: Can people combine MiM with other utility incentives?

Kim Havey: No, people have to choose between MiM and a utility incentive. For instance, people in Xcel Energy territory need to make a choice between using Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program or using the Made in Minnesota program. The same is true for Minnesota Power’s SolarSense program.

Diana McKeown: What impact is the program having?

Kim Havey: In the first two years, MiM has awarded funds to over 700 projects accounting for just under 11 megawatts of new solar PV in the state, which is equal to about half of all solar that is installed across Minnesota through the end of 2014. The program has increased jobs in installation and manufacturing in Minnesota and has supported the investment of over $30 million in solar projects.

Diana McKeown: Is it true that community solar gardens are also eligible for MiM?

Kim Havey: Yes, it’s true. A number of community solar garden projects have been awarded funding. Community solar garden projects that want to apply to MiM can be no larger than 40 kW and will be considered commercial and for-profit. Solar Garden Developers must apply in the MiM lottery process and then apply to Xcel Energy through their community solar garden application process.

Diana McKeown: How can people learn more?

Kim Havey: For general information on the Made in Minnesota (MiM) program please visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website. You can also email your questions to [email protected] or call the Commerce Energy Information Line at 1-800-657-3710.

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