Minnesota is Number One! In Expensive and Inefficient Community Solar Installations

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is celebrating the fact that our state has more inefficient and incredibly expensive Community Solar installations than any other state in the country. These installations are paid $125 to $135 per megawatt hour of electricity produced, which is four times more than the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants and twice the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar. Only the Commerce Department, which opposes building Line 3 because it doesn’t think our state will need oil in the future, could be so utterly clueless about energy.

Community solar isn’t just expensive, it is incredibly unreliable. In fact, the capacity factor for solar in Minnesota was only 18.2 percent in 2017, meaning 81.8 percent of the time, we’re still using coal, natural gas, or nuclear energy to keep the lights on when the sun isn’t shining.

This is why it doesn’t matter if solar panels become less expensive over time. Building solar panels does not mean we get to shut down coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants, it simply means we get to pay for all of these sources, rather than only paying for the ones that show up to work when we need them to. Furthermore, the “savings” on fuel are also overstated. The cost of fuel at a coal-fired power plant is about $20 per megawatt hour, so spending $135 dollars to save $20, makes literally zero sense.

You can see the slideshow I presented to the Minnesota Senate earlier this month for more information.

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