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Minnesota Reboots Community Solar Program with New Focus on Lower-Income Residents

Summary

Minnesota's community solar program, one of the oldest and largest in the U.S., is undergoing significant changes with a new state law aiming to enhance equity and residential participation. Launched in 2013, the program has seen over 800 megawatts of solar capacity development. The recent legislation shifts program management to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, addressing concerns about bias in administration by utility Xcel Energy. Developers can now build larger projects with fewer geographic restrictions, up to 5 megawatts, and subscriber requirements mandate 30% low- or moderate-income participants. While some anticipate a slow start under the new rules, developers generally support the shift, emphasizing improved alignment with the original community solar concept, allowing broader access to clean energy and financial benefits. The changes also include annual caps, introducing uncertainty for developers amid potential regulatory hurdles.

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