Redesigned Solar*Rewards offers an improved solar option for customers
MINNEAPOLIS - Xcel Energy customers interested in clean, renewable solar energy will have a redesigned incentive for rooftop solar under a proposal filed today with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The new program will encourage solar generation by paying participating customers an incentive based on the amount of energy their rooftop systems produce, rather than providing an upfront payment.
"Our redesigned Solar*Rewards program should maximize the solar generation produced from rooftop solar projects," said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. "The production-based incentives make good use of program funding by encouraging participating customers to install and maintain efficient systems and matching incentives to the actual amount of electricity generated."
The next generation in Solar*Rewards has the potential to add more than four times the existing amount of rooftop solar in Minnesota by 2020. The redesigned program will replace the existing program in 2014 and will be funded at the same level as the prior program with $5 million annually from Xcel Energy's Renewable Development Fund.
In addition to the transition to production-based incentives, the incentive levels have been adjusted to reflect declines in the cost of solar equipment and increased customer demand for solar. The new incentive levels will allow greater program participation within the budget established by the Minnesota Legislature.
The new Solar*Rewards proposal comes just after the company's announcement that it will offer customers a solar gardens program in Minnesota. Both the new Solar*Rewards and solar gardens programs are designed to support the energy bill passed last spring by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.
In addition to offering solar programs for customers, Xcel Energy is expanding plans for large-scale solar facilities to help meet the goal of providing 1.5 percent of its electricity from solar energy by 2020.
"We are committed to providing more choices and creating competitive product offerings for customers," said Ben Fowke, chairman, president, and CEO of Xcel Energy. "By including a variety of solar options in our portfolio and getting the incentives set correctly, we will keep energy costs affordable for customers while increasing the level of solar power on our system."
Xcel Energy ranks fifth in the country in purchases of solar energy and is the largest provider of wind energy.
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company that provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in eight Western and Midwestern states. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at www.xcelenergy.com.