CEEM and its partners successfully worked to secure an additional $10 million in funding for Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program in 2021. The program was set to expire in 2022 and will now have funding for an additional two years through 2024.
In order to expand customer access and provide the certainty needed for planning and development of residential and small commercial solar in this popular program more funding is required. CEEM will be engaging policymakers to add and extend funding beyond 2024 to support the Solar*Rewards program.
As the federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar systems begins to phase down from the current 26% in 2022 to 22% in 2023 before dropping to 0% in 2024, securing additional funding and program years for Solar*Rewards will help support thousands of solar jobs and expand the benefits of residential solar in Minnesota.
In 2019, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School decided to take advantage of several programs that gave them a path to installing solar on its school building, that didn’t require any upfront capital. The team at iDEAL Energies introduced them to Minnesota’s Solar*Rewards program, combined with the city of Minneapolis’ green cost share program which made solar a viable option for the school, with full ownership transferred to the school after 18 years.
Building performance standards
Residential and commercial buildings account for roughly 40% of the energy use and emissions in the United States.
As more cities and states take steps to lower their energy usage, evidence suggests that policies on building energy usage are helping nudge energy consumption lower.
A recent report from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Minnesota Department of Commerce contained recommendations for reducing energy use in new commercial and large multifamily buildings. In 2021, a bill was introduced to adopt a more efficient building standard to achieve net zero energy for new commercial buildings by 2036.
CEEM will continue to support discussions on the use of enhanced building performance standards to reduce energy waste and GHG emissions from Minnesota’s buildings.
Building electrification is a fancy way of describing the switch from natural gas to electric to save consumers money and reduce carbon emissions. Many existing homes use both electric and gas appliances today, so the goal is to build new homes with all-electric appliances and to switch existing gas appliances (like water heaters and stoves) to electric.
CEEM’s will continue its efforts to defend existing solar programs and accelerate the growth of Minnesota’s solar industry.
Over several legislative sessions, we have worked with our members and partners to strengthen and modernize Minnesota’s nation-leading Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program — which was originally passed into law in 2013. The CSG program needs updates to recognize the growing pains and market changes from the past eight years. A main area of focus is removing arbitrary red tape that is slowing the program down, like the contiguous county provision. This provision is stated in law that all subscribers to a community solar garden must reside within the same county as the garden, or a contiguous county. Removing the contiguous county restriction has the potential to open up an industry-estimated 300 megawatts of untapped solar potential – leading to 12,000 new CSG construction jobs over the next 6-24 months.
With no action taken by the legislature in 2021, it is imperative that progress be made in modernizing the CSG program in 2022. This will ensure more Minnesotans will continue to have the option to access and subscribe to a CSG to save money on their monthly electricity bill while expanding economic development and jobs within the state.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, communities in Greater Minnesota were facing uncertain futures. Now, nearly six months into a peacetime emergency that was first declared by Governor Tim Walz on March 13, 2020, the impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated the economic development challenges Greater Minnesota has faced for years. Farm incomes are at historic lows, local government revenues are down, and thousands of jobs have been lost.
Learn more about our policy work
We work between the aisle with policymakers to advance energy efficiency and clean energy innovation that diversifies and strengthens Minnesota’s economy.
CEEM works with Minnesota and Midwest regulatory bodies to ensure that clean energy policy is enacted in the best way for our member businesses and all Minnesotans.
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