Transportation & Land Use

Bipartisan bill for electric vehicles is a win-win

Chevy Volt

Back in 2011, Fresh Energy conducted an intensive, six-month deep dive into the issue of plug-in electric vehicles. With the help of several local and national experts, we studied a full range of EV-related issues and policy implications. But we also wanted to address one main question: should Minnesota embrace plug in vehicles? The answer is a resounding yes.

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Clean Energy

Take Action: Urge the Public Utilities Commission to adopt fair rules for community solar projects

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Last May, the Minnesota Legislature passed one of the boldest community solar laws in the nation. The law required Xcel Energy to draft the rules that will govern community solar within its service territory. Unfortunately, Xcel Energy has proposed an unworkable set of rules that would unnecessarily restrict community solar and stymie the clear legislative intent behind the new law.

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Clean Energy

Minnesota moves ahead on community solar

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Earlier this year, Minnesota’s legislative leaders adopted the strongest set of solar policies in the Midwest—including a clear legislative framework for community solar projects. As required by the new law, Xcel Energy recently filed its draft community solar implementation plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. At stake is the ability of community organizations to initiate and develop community solar projects of their own. Here’s our rundown of the good, the bad, and how the plan can be improved.

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Clean Energy

Removing barriers to solar financing in Minnesota

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At today’s prices, rooftop solar photovoltaic systems will often pay for themselves within the first 20 years. But many Minnesotans face a lack of long-term financing options, creating a high initial cost hurdle that is, for many, insurmountable. As a result, Minnesota customers that want to embrace solar must pay cash up front, have access to a substantial preexisting line of credit, or depend on utility rebates. But a policy called third-party financing can make a big difference.

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Clean Energy

Recognizing the true value of solar

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In 1981, Minnesota adopted the country’s first “net metering” policy, allowing utility customers with small onsite renewable energy systems—such as solar or wind—to spin their meter backwards and save on their utility bills. The 2013 Clean Energy and Jobs Act, signed into law earlier this year by Governor Dayton, contains sweeping reforms to this decades-old policy and puts Minnesota on a path of long-term solar market growth. At the same time, legislators gave Minnesota’s investor-owned utilities a new, innovative option that would allow them to replace solar net metering with something called a “value-of-solar” tariff.

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Clean Energy

Community solar gardens: Coming soon to a neighborhood near you

Rooftop solar PV: Minneapolis Convention Center

Have you ever looked into what it takes to install a solar project on your home? Installing small-scale solar energy on homes and businesses throughout Minnesota is an important way to cut coal use and transition to clean energy, but it can be hard to implement. However, last month, Minnesota’s legislative leaders passed some of the boldest solar policies in the Midwest, including a new law that allows Minnesotans to team up and develop community solar projects—independent of many of the barriers that have limited solar installations in the past.

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Clean Energy

Big gains in clean energy and efficiency this year

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In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature adopted its most significant clean energy reforms since 2007. Bills passed into law were a good first step in answering Governor Mark Dayton’s call to transition to a cleaner energy future that creates thousands of jobs for Minnesotans. Learn more about our clean energy and efficiency accomplishments at the legislature this year.

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