- By subscribing to a SunShare-developed community shared solar project, the city of Cologne, MN, population 1,500, to the west of Minneapolis-St. Paul, will be the first Minnesota municipal government to meet its entire electricity need with solar-generated power.
- Cologne expects to save $1.1 million with its 25-year solar subscription. Its modules' output will be large enough so the unused electricity sold to Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s dominant electric utility, will balance the cost of the electricity Xcel will deliver to the city when the sun is not shining.
- A dozen Minnesota cities are obtaining portions of their power from solar and saving money for other budgetary needs like schools and policing. With more local governments considering larger, privately developed installations, Xcel Energy wants regulators to permit adjustments to its community shared solar program to manage the growth.
Community shared solar allows residential and business utility customers without solar suitable roofs to subscribe to the portion of an array that meets their electricity needs. It offers two unique opportunities to governments: First, access to solar without using historic government buildings’ roofs; second, private developers like SunShare and the Clean Energy Collective can offer no upfront costs through third party financing plans that make solar tax benefits that are useless to untaxed entitities available to the third party funders.
New data in the DOE’s recent report, "Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation" shows an estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host solar because of unsuitable roofs, tenant agreements, poor credit scores, and other reasons.
Community shared solar is the “biggest trend” for solar at utilities, according to Senior Research Manager Becky Campbell, co-author of a recent Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) report on the topic.