Who’s offering community solar

to Xcel Energy residential

customers in Minnesota?

Able Energy Co.

Cooperative Energy Futures

Innovative Power Systems

MN Community Solar

Novel Energy Solutions

NRG Home Solar

SolarCity*

Sundial Solar

SunEdison*

SunShare

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

Pay-as-you-go

• 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.

Pay upfront

• 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.

More information

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.