Minnesota’s distributed solar generation capacity has grown from almost nothing to over 40 MW in the past decade. Consumer sited solar PV installations have rapidly increased statewide as prices plummeted and state policies that encouraged distributed generation came into effect. While the entire state's solar capacity is increasing, once broken down across different utility service territories the patterns of growth are quite varied. This paper aims to look at the characteristics of regions with higher amounts of customer sited distributed solar generation in Minnesota. Furthermore, it seeks to identify utility specific policies that impact the growth of small scale solar, with a focus on finding implementation methods that are adaptable and equitable as the electrical generation portfolio transforms over the coming decade.
Minnesota has also been an area of focus around clean energy because of its community solar garden statute. While this program is resulting in a large solar boom throughout portions of the state, this paper will not examine the details of that program. Most community solar systems are large systems developed by independent contractors at sites away from the customers they serve. It also falls under different financing and rate structures from customer sited generation, making comparisons between the two types more difficult. It will instead focus on the potential for additional growth in customer sited solar generation that falls under net metering rates throughout Minnesota.