Minnesota Solar Challenge

Minnesota Solar Challenge: Lowering barriers to rooftop solar

Fresh Energy, working with partners in state and local government, is leading an innovative effort to identify and reduce the regulatory uncertainty, red tape, and “hassle factors” associated with Minnesota property owners going solar.


Compared to other states, Minnesota ranks near the bottom in solar photovoltaic adoption. But it’s not for lack of supply—Minnesota’s solar potential exceeds that of well-established solar markets like Germany, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is also not for lack of demand. Our annual solar incentive programs are fully subscribed within months, and Minnesota ratepayers lead the nation in voluntary green-power purchasing.

What’s the problem?

Minnesota has more than 500 cities and towns, more than 150 electric utilities, and countless housing associations. Each has a unique set of rules for rooftop solar, many of which are unnecessarily restrictive. Third-party developers, owners, and financiers are mostly steering clear of regulatory complexity and uncertainty. Property owners going it alone face steep learning curves and long timelines.

Project solution

With partial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Rooftop Solar Challenge, Fresh Energy will:

  • Identify solar-friendly improvements to state regulations and utility interconnection procedures.
  • Identify key policy changes necessary to enable large-scale, low-hassle, low-cost solar financing.
  • Develop solar zoning and land-use planning standards for adoption by Minnesota cities and towns.
  • Disseminate this collection of best practices through a final report to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, stakeholder workshops, and webinars.