Who’s offering community solar
to Xcel Energy residential
customers in Minnesota?
Note: Community solar is open to business, government and institutional customers. But this list covers only residential offerings; companies with * have not released details.
Types of payment plans
• Monthly payment based on kilowatt-hour solar output, with annual escalator percentage.
• Monthly payment based on a guaranteed discount to Xcel’s rates (9 percent to 10 percent)
• Monthly flat payment, similar to paying off a loan.
• Single payment of thousands of dollars, similar to installing your own rooftop solar.
• If customer gets a third-party loan, this is similar to flat-rate pay-as-you-go.
Questions to ask
• What is the company’s track record, past projects?
• Does company have an approved grid interconnection?
• What happens if the project isn’t finished in 2016?
• What are the transfer terms, especially if I move from Xcel’s region or die?
• What are my remedies if the solar garden consistently under-produces?
• What is the price, annual escalator, if any, and method used to estimate savings?
Things to watch for
• Keep checking Xcel’s website for updates, especially for the release of names of grid-approved projects.
• Carefully examine “buy now, or lose out” pitches. But be aware that solar gardens built after 2016 may be less lucrative because of federal tax policy.
• Comparing the cost of pay-as-you-go community solar may require looking at two variables — the initial price and the annual escalator.
CERTS: The University of Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams has a consumer-focused webpage with links to its Microsoft Excel comparison tool and a separate page listing community solar projects, including some for utilities other than Xcel.
Xcel: The utility’s Solar Rewards Community website offers FAQs, an e-mail list sign-up and other details. A downloadable list of queued projects has blanks under the developer names because of the solar industry’s insistence on trade secrecy.