Latest Posts





Government Mandates, Not Free Markets, Responsible for Minnesota’s Solar Growth

I recently wrote about how the solar irradiance, the energy potential for solar, in Minnesota and Wisconsin were among the lowest in the country. Despite the poor solar resources in Minnesota, our state had installed 882 MW of solar. This is an awful lot of solar panels given the fact that solar irradiance is low here, especially compared to states like Arizona and California, and it strongly suggests the growth in solar in Minnesota is a product of government mandates and rate structures, not free markets.

In 2013, the Minnesota legislature passed legislation requiring 1.5 percent of Minnesota’s electricity come from solar by 2020, and it also established Minnesota’s Community Solar Garden program, which requires Xcel Energy to purchase electricity from the facilities at a rate of $110-125 per megawatt hour. This is four times the cost of electricity generated at the Sherburne County coal plant, which generates some of the lowest-cost electricity in the state.

Given this sweetheart deal, it’s no surprise that 57 percent of the solar installed in Minnesota is Community Solar.

Unfortunately, the DFL-led House of Representatives voted to expand the Community Solar program, refusing every amendment proposed by Republican lawmakers to reduce the costs borne by Xcel Energy customers, which will cause electricity bills to rise by $39 per customer next year, according to Rick Evans of Xcel Energy.

If solar growth were driven by free markets and not government mandates, then investors would naturally seek to invest in areas where they could get the highest return on investment. Due to its low solar irradiance, this would not be Minnesota.

Lastly, if there was any doubt that solar is driven by mandates and not markets, let’s not forget that Ralph Jacobson, founder of IPS Solar, said snow “does fill up on solar collectors” during the winter. Paying people to clean off panels is simply too expensive, he said, especially at farms such as Waterville, where thousands are spread over acres of land, according to Midwest Energy News, which is run by Fresh Energy.

How can any product be viable in a free market in Minnesota if it doesn’t work when it snows, and it is “too expensive” to clear the snow off of it?





Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota: St. Cloud

    Location: St. Cloud

    Sign up HERE! Courtyard by Marriott St. Cloud 404 West Saint Germain Street St. Cloud, MN, 56301 Please join Center of the American Experiment on Tuesday, July 21 for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert Catrin Wigfall as she explains K-12 education in the state and its persistent disparities despite decades of increased spending. Following her presentation, Catrin will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude   Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She is also the director of EducatedTeachersMN and EmployeeFreedomMN. Catrin’s…

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota: Marshall

    Location: Marshall Golf Club

      Sign up for this event HERE! Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, July 16 at Marshall Golf Club for a breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Following his presentation, John will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude John Phelan is a graduate of Birkbeck College, University of London, where he earned a BSc in Economics, and of the London School of Economics where he earned an MSc. He worked in finance for ten years before becoming a professional economist. He…

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders- Now in September!

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    NEW SEPTEMBER DATE: We have made the difficult decision to once again move the date of this event. We will now host our Annual Dinner on Saturday, September 19th. All tickets bought for the April 4th, or June 18th dates are transferrable. We are so sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, but we look forward to seeing you on September 19! Direct any questions to Kathryn Hinderaker (kathryn.hinderaker@americanexperiment.org or 612-428-7005).   American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to…

    Register Now