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Support new solar options in your community

As I sit watching the first snowflakes of the season fall outside it’s hard to remember that Minnesota has a great solar resource. With our long, snowy winters it’s sometimes easy to forget that we do have long uninterrupted blocks of sun throughout the winter that can generate electricity for our homes and businesses.

Right now we’re only using a fraction of the potential energy from the sun. It’s time for Minnesota to invest in more solar energy. Too much of our state’s power comes from dirty forms of energy shipped in from outside the state. We deserve clean, renewable sources of energy that don’t pollute the air and provide jobs and economic benefits to local communities.

Luckily, investing in solar is getting easier in our state. This spring Minnesota passed a bill that will bring 30 times more solar to the state by 2020. Now it’s time for our cities and communities to step up and lead the charge. Programs like community solar gardens and PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) can bring solar power to individual residents and small businesses. For people like me who live in a rental property, installing solar isn’t an option. Community solar gardens give us the option to have our electricity supplied by clean technology at an affordable rate.

PACE financing lowers the barrier for small businesses by helping to defray the installation costs of energy-efficient or renewable-energy technology. By making solar power affordable, everyone has the opportunity to improve the quality of our air and environment. Contact your city council members to urge them to support new solar options for your community.

Hanna Terwilliger is a clean energy associate at Environment Minnesota.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/30/2013 - 08:27 am.

    Solar Power

    I’m not convinced that solar power is ready for prime time yet. I keep tabs on the ROI (return on investment) to see if it’s cost effective and it just doesn’t seem like it’s there. $20,000 – $30,000 for a typical home installation generally won’t pay for itself over the 20 year lifespan of the equipment.

    I would be more inclined to take a look at solar heating, where the sun’s rays are used to heat water rather than generate electricity. That seems like a more cost effective strategy to pursue while we wait for the costs to drop.

  2. Submitted by rolf westgard on 11/01/2013 - 10:13 am.

    Right on, Todd

    Intermittent and low density solar requires big subsidies. Essentially with roof top solar you are asking your neighbors to cough up so you can show them how eco friendly you are.

  3. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/03/2013 - 09:23 am.

    Left On

    Rolf is missing an important point: just because solar is not cost effective at the moment it doesn’t mean it never will. The low density properties of solar can become one of its greatest assets. Bring the cost of solar roofing shingles or solar paint down and we’ll see it applied to a lot of houses and other buildings, making our electrical distribution more diverse and cheaper to run.

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