We Need More Solar Investments from Xcel Energy

by Anders Arnevik

Japanese contractors install solar panels on the Public Works building roof at Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan.

Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr

Over the next couple of months, the Sierra Club will gather as much public support as possible for Xcel Energy to invest more money into renewable energy sources and energy conservation and replace the Sherco coal plant units 1 & 2, Minnesota’s biggest polluter and mercury spewer.

In their recently updated Integrated Resource Plan, a comprehensive 15 year energy plan, Xcel have allotted an investment of a lonely 1 MW into solar energy, an appallingly low figure given Minnesota’s solar potential.

Minnesota has an equal solar resource to Houston, TX, and Tallahassee, FL. Our level of solar production is 15th in the nation, but Wisconsin and Michigan both rank in the top 5 and have very similar climate to it Midwest neighbors. Minnesota can do better. 

Although counter-intuitive, it turns out Minnesota’s cold climate is advantageous in Photovoltaic efficiency. This message needs to spread so solar powered homes can really snowball!

Programs exist that encourage Minnesotans to utilize our abundant solar resource. Xcel has one of its own that gives tax rebates for households that have seen the light. Despite its good intentions, Xcel’s gesture falls short, as the funding for these rebates is set far too low, leaving many clean energy seekers out to dry. 

The truth of the matter is that Xcel is working towards going greener, but are in need of a public supported push to increase their efforts.  If you would like to make a real impact and help MN move beyond coal as an energy source, send a comment to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Visit action.sierraclub.org/XcelMN

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