The big, shiny Silicon Valley companies like Tesla and their new solar roof tiles might be snagging all the headlines right now, but they’re far from being the only ones who are making amazing strides in bringing solar energy into the mainstream.
Take the state of Minnesota, for example. Without much fanfare at all, Minnesota added more solar capacity in the first quarter of 2017 than the entire previous year. Talk about being on a roll!
Look How Far We’ve Come
It wasn’t that long ago at all. Back in 2013, our state passed what’s known as the Solar Energy Standard. It requires utilities to obtain 1.5% of their electric power from solar sources by the end of 2020. That will increase to 10% by 2030.
People want to , so they took this to heart. According to the Minnesota Commerce Department, which oversees the state’s energy office, solar jobs have increased by 44%, with nearly 4,000 Minnesotans now employed in the industry.
Back in 2009, the entire state’s solar capacity was just 1 megawatt. Currently, it’s more than 800 megawatts. To give you perspective, a single megawatt is enough to power about 140 homes.
Last year, 207 megawatts of this total were added. And, that’s approximately how much was added in the first three months of 2017 alone.
Not Just Rooftop Panels
The Minnesota Commerce Department notes that this surge in solar is shared by both the commercial sector and residents. Solar capacity for the state is expected to increase by another 600 megawatts by the end of the year. Some of this will come from community solar projects known as solar gardens.
At this pace, utility leader Xcel Energy says they’re confident they’ll exceed the mandated 1.5% Solar Energy Standard a full 3 years ahead of the deadline.
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