The Great Plains Institute is engaging local governments across the Upper Midwest on long-term planning for renewable energy. As part of this effort, we developed a guide to provide communities in Minnesota with an overview of long-term utility- and community-scale solar and wind development—systems sized one megawatt (MW) or greater.  

The guide provides a summary of key topics important to developing solar and wind in Minnesota:

  • Renewable energy siting authority
  • Taxation and local revenue
  • Solar and wind resources in Minnesota
  • Existing solar and wind projects in Minnesota
  • Market trends for Minnesota’s solar and wind development

The guide also provides information and resources on energy siting, policy, taxation, and incentives for solar and wind in Minnesota.

Download Siting Utility-Scale Solar and Wind in Minnesota: A Guide for Local Governments.” Additional information is being developed on discrete siting or ordinance topics that are evolving as the solar industry grows, such as decommissioning considerations, waste disposal (panel replacement or repowering), and integration of battery storage in large-scale projects and hybrid project development.

Solar and wind energy, resources that are abundant throughout the state of Minnesota, are among the least expensive forms of electric generation in the country—and costs of both solar and wind energy systems are forecast to continue declining. Market activity in renewable energy development is expected to continue increasing well into the future.

Understanding the long-term market context helps communities make informed decisions in evaluating renewable energy proposals and creating plans about how future development should happen. In Minnesota, wind energy makes up almost 18 percent of electricity net generation and solar energy makes up about 2 percent, with both wind and solar deployment slated to increase over the coming years. Figure 1 shows the solar and wind projects in Minnesota that are in the region’s public interconnection queue (of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator), which is a required process for new generators to interconnect to the region’s transmission system. This is an indication of future market activity.

Figure 1: MISO Queue Projects

MISO Queue Wind and Solar Projects in Minnesota

Source: Adapted from Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) public interconnection queue dataset, accessed January 13, 2020.

Wind and solar energy developments are subject to taxation based on the energy production of the system. The generated tax revenue is split between the county and township or city in which the development is located. Local governments benefit from solar and wind energy systems through tax revenue. Figures 2 and 3 show tax revenue generated from production taxes on solar and wind energy systems.

Figure 2: Minnesota Solar Production and Tax Revenue (2016-2018)

Solar Production and Tax Revenue in Minnesota

Figure 3: Minnesota Wind Production and Tax Revenue (2003-2019)

Wind Production and Tax Revenue in Minnesota

We are developing additional state guides and will provide links here as they’re published (next up, Wisconsin):

Iowa Siting Guide

We also created a three-part series about increasing long-term market understanding in communities that can help them be prepared for utility-scale wind and solar project siting in the Midwest:

  • Part one focused on market forces and increasing the need for local communities to incorporate and plan for large-scale renewable deployment.
  • Part two helped describe the adjacent conditions and constraints that can help inform community decisions around utility-scale siting and begin conversations to prepare for long-term pressures and opportunities.
  • Part three addressed what local communities can do to increase readiness for project development.

If you are interested in hosting a utility-scale wind or solar workshop or would like more information on resources available (and relevant) to your specific community, please reach out to:

You can learn how GPI is taking proactive steps on COVID-19 as an organization here and access the latest information on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and your local health department.

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