Solar energy production is a small but growing resource in Minnesota, where we now have more than eight megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity. The Minnesota Solar Challenge project is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Fresh Energy, and Xcel Energy to provide support for local communities pursuing increased access to financing, standardized permitting processes, and updated planning and zoning codes and other solar-related policies.
Information on this project is divided out into the following topic areas:
Background & Goals
Do you need assistance with interconnection, permitting, zoning, or billing questions related to solar electric installations?
We have technical assistance available for the following audiences:
The Minnesota Solar Challenge project provides assistance with permitting, zoning, and interconnection of solar electric systems. Resources include established best practices for streamlined solar permitting guidelines and checklists, solar planning and zoning ordinances that accommodate solar electric installations and assistance with interconnection issues. Our main goal is to remove barriers to solar electric installations in Minnesota communities that wish to facilitate solar deployment.
To request technical assistance on solar electric installations, contact the Solar Helpline at:
651.296.7904 (Twin Cities)
855.374.6822 (Greater Minnesota)
The City of Minneapolis employed the Solar ABCs guidance to successfully develop their own streamlined permitting process.
Solar Guide for Local Governments
The U. S Department of Energy has provided a community-focused guide specifically for local governments that seek to simplify solar installation in their communities. The guide introduces a range of policy and program options that can help a community build a sustainable solar infrastructure.
The U.S. Department of Energy recognizes that while the equipment costs of solar have decreased, the non-hardware costs of permitting, interconnection, installation, and design remain relatively high. The Minnesota Solar Challenge project is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Fresh Energy and Xcel Energy to address these and other impediments to effective installation of rooftop photovoltaics. The project brings together government officials, regulatory entities, private industry, local utilities, and other stakeholders to reduce barriers to solar installation and to serve as a model for other communities across the country. Minnesota is one of 22 awardees to receive funding nationwide.
The Minnesota Solar Challenge project provides support for local communities pursuing increased access to financing, standardized permit processes, and updated planning and zoning codes and other solar related policies. These measures will help reduce non-hardware costs, which account for up to 40 percent of the total cost of solar energy systems.
The overall goal is to identify and provide best practices for state and local procedures that expedite the integration of photovoltaic (PV) systems for both residential and small commercial rooftop applications. The expected results are as follows:
lower balance-of-system costs for residential and small commercial rooftop PV systems
reduced time needed for approvals and inspections of grid-connected rooftop PV
reduced transaction costs associated with installing PV
new or simplified financing options for PV homeowners, businesses, and installers
The Rooftop Solar Challenge is part of the U.S. DOE SunShot Initiative, which is a collaborative national effort to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Access more information about the SunShot Initiative. View information on individual Rooftop Solar Challenge awards.