Legislative Session Brings Groundbreaking Victory for Solar Energy
Historic collaboration sets stage for energy transformation
June 4, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS SAINT PAUL, MN) -- Groundbreaking legislation passed this session and signed into law will enable large-scale solar energy investment and keep Minnesota on the forefront of the nation’s renewable energy movement.
A group of city and state leaders joined industry professionals today to shed light on the legislation and its incentives that encourage the expansion of solar energy development and infrastructure for home, business, and government.
"Today, we stand together for a clean, green and an independent energy future for Minnesota," declared Sen. Ellen Anderson, lead author of the energy legislation that will result in significant solar investments throughout the state.
Highlights of the law include:
• rebates for Minnesotans who install solar systems
• grants for solar in schools and public buildings
• funding for solar job training
• support for innovative large scale projects that will usher in a new era for solar development.
"The idea is to make a short-term, coordinated investment in solar technologies, so that we can transform the market for solar in Minnesota and allow it to stand on its own in the long-term," stated Bill Glahn, Director of the Office of Energy Security and Deputy Commissioner of Commerce.
In 1994, the doors opened to large-scale wind energy investment in Minnesota. Fifteen years later, a cooperative legislative effort has set the stage for a similar solar energy transformation.
"The legislation passed this year is going to jump start solar markets in Minnesota, and we’re glad to be part of that action," said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co. Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. "The new laws will position us to support our customers’ interest in this renewable energy source and take advantage of declining costs as this industry grows and technologies improve."
Minneapolis and Saint Paul are taking the lead on local initiatives on solar energy. In 2008, the cities were designated Solar America Cities by the U.S. Department of Energy. Early accomplishments in addition to these state policy gains include the installation of two solar charging systems for plug-in hybrid cars for the car-sharing HourCar program; solar training options at local community colleges to create green jobs; and developing opportunities to showcase energy efficiency and solar in the area near the Central Corridor.
"We need to build a new economy based on clean energy technology, because the economy of the past – whether we like it or not – is over," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. "The old ways of doing business have literally run out of gas. Not only will an urgent focus on clean energy jobs, like solar power, rebuild and reinvent our economy, it will begin to undo the damage we have caused to our planet."
"This goes beyond creating renewable energy options for residents and energy independence for our economy," Mayor Coleman said. "This legislation represents the green economy we want, creating jobs for our residents and opportunities for businesses to grow as the industry develops."
Published Jun. 4, 2009