SOLAR SURGE: Minn. commerce commissioner touts incentive success - KMSP-TV

SOLAR SURGE: Minn. commerce commissioner touts incentive success

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

With more people signing up for the state's solar energy incentive program than the system can handle, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is heralding it as a "phenomenal success."

On Friday, Rothman told the Solar Powering Minnesota conference that the enrollment enthusiasm shows the energy program has exceeded initial estimates.

"It just shows the increasing demand," Rothman said.

The applications to the Made in Minnesota incentive program that were received in January and February will be entered into a lottery, according to a Minnesota Public Radio report.

The Legislature set up the program last year by allocating $15 million annually over the next 10 years as funded by Minnesota utilities, and it is designed to help homeowners and businesses install Minnesota-manufactured solar systems.

The incentive program also ties in with a new law that will require the large utility service providers in Minnesota to produce at least 1.5 percent of their total electricity using solar technologies by 2020. Officials aim to have 10 percent of the state's energy generated via solar production by 2030.

According to Minh Le, the director of the U.S. Department of Energy's solar technologies office, the state of Minnesota is capable of meeting those goals.

"I'm often reminded that even though this is the northernmost state in the continental United States, you boast more sunlight than the country of Germany," he said. "Germany has installed more solar in the past decade than any other country in the world."

Yet, while Germany has invested heavily in solar technologies, Le concedes Minnesota does face a challenge when it comes to integrating solar with an aging infrastructure grid.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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