New State Funding puts Solar on the Curriculum for Minnesota Schools

The inability to claim tax credits has slowed solar on educational buildings. State lawmakers agreed to include $21 million in an omnibus energy bill to help K-12 schools and community colleges add panels to their rooftops.

Solar panels on a school rooftop in Oregon.
Solar panels on a school rooftop in Oregon. New state funding could help triple such installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges. Credit: Portland General Electric / Creative Commons

By Frank Jossi

A new, first-of-its-kind state fund could help triple the number of solar installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges.

Minnesota ranked 11th in the country last year for solar capacity on school buildings, with 157 installations identified in a national industry report. That leaves hundreds of rooftops with the potential to host money-saving solar projects.

School districts are at a disadvantage when it comes to solar financing since they do not pay taxes and thus can’t take advantage of state and federal tax credits. State lawmakers voted this month to provide an alternative source of funding designed to spur as many as 350 new projects on educational buildings.

The omnibus commerce and energy policy and finance bill includes $16 million for solar projects on K-12 schools and nearly $5 million for community colleges. 

The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association predicts the funding will cover solar on at least 70 schools in Xcel Energy’s footprint in and around the Twin Cities and another roughly 280 in Greater Minnesota. The difference is due to size restrictions based on state law. Schools served by Xcel can apply for projects up to 1 megawatt while outstate schools can only install 40-kilowatt projects due to limitations in the state’s net metering law…

Read the full article, New State Funding Puts Solar on the Curriculum for Minnesota Schools, on the Energy News Network.

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