Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program now has 40 active community solar gardens delivering more than 100 MW of clean, renewable energy to Minnesota customers – making it the largest community solar garden program in the country, according to the utility.
“This is a significant moment for the solar industry, and we want to recognize all the partners who played a role in making Solar*Rewards Community the largest community solar garden program in the nation,” says Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “Xcel Energy recognizes that our customers and communities want more renewable energy options. We are well on our way to deliver a third of our energy from renewables by 2030, and solar plays a role in achieving this ambitious goal.”
“NRG Energy is proud to have worked with Xcel Energy on achieving the unparalleled milestone of 100 MW of community solar,” says Craig Cornelius, senior vice president of renewables at NRG Energy. “What Xcel Energy has accomplished is a great example of the commitment, drive and determination needed to succeed in developing solar generation systems. With their program, Xcel Energy has set the gold standard for those who will follow in advancing community solar and allowing residential, business and industrial customers to take advantage of the benefits of solar power.”
“Cypress Creek is proud to be a part of Xcel Energy’s innovative Solar*Rewards Community,” adds Matt McGovern, CEO of Cypress Creek Renewables. “Thanks to Xcel Energy’s leadership, affordable solar energy is now more accessible to Minnesotans than ever before. We are thrilled to have our Empire and Blue Lake solar gardens included in the program and look forward to bringing more local solar gardens online this year.”
“Xcel Energy has designed a community solar program that makes business sense to the utility, independent developers, and large or small customers,” says Raj Rajan, vice president of research, development and engineering at Ecolab. “I am proud of the fact that Ecolab was Xcel Energy’s first commercial and industrial customer to go public with its full commitment to this program, encouraging other large customers to join us to scale-up and speed-up its success.”
Xcel Energy says it currently has more than 139 MW of clean, renewable energy online from solar gardens across Minnesota. There are nearly 180 solar garden projects totaling more than 475 MW currently in the design or the construction phase. Xcel Energy estimates that up to 150 to 200 additional megawatts could be online by the end of the year.
As the utility explains, community solar are an alternative to private solar panels; residents, business owners, nonprofits and municipalities may purchase subscriptions to a solar garden without having to install solar panels on their own roof or property. Subscribers receive credit on their bills for the power their panels produce. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the Solar*Rewards Community program in early 2014 to improve access to renewable energy for businesses and residences in Minnesota.
Community solar project photo courtesy of NRG Energy.