Minnesota Power’s Low Income Solar Pilot Program

The Low Income Solar Pilot Program provides funding for projects that make it possible for income-qualified customers to have easier access to solar power. Applications for projects that benefit income-qualified customers or facilities that serve income-qualified customers can be submitted by Minnesota Power customers, solar installers or developers, or community groups. A committee of seven Minnesota Power employees and seven regional stakeholders will review applications and award funding.

To be considered for funding, projects must meet the requirements listed below. Applicants also will be required to demonstrate how their project meets the following program design criteria:

  • Energy Conservation. Projects should reflect Minnesota Power’s commitment to energy conservation by including an element of conservation education and/or demonstration. Low income projects should be additive to existing programs, but not redundant to them.
  • Accessibility and Empowerment. Projects should empower customers to take control of their energy investments through education, training or hands-on experience. Projects should expand the opportunity for low income participation in solar programs.
  • Consumer Protection and Affordability. Projects should demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the costs and provide full transparency of all project details including but not limited to detailed costs, benefits and financial arrangements.
  • Sustainability and Flexibility. Projects should be flexible to accommodate changes as conditions and circumstances evolve and help support a viable solar market for low income customers.
  • Community engagement. Projects should engage the community through increased awareness of available tools, resources and programs and provide an avenue for customers to participate in energy solutions.
  • Innovation. Projects should include innovation through unique partnerships, structures or funding mechanisms.
  • Accountability. Projects should describe their level of permanency and accountability including how the project benefits will or will not be passed to future beneficiaries or participants.

Participation Eligibility Requirements

  • Customers receiving funds from the Low Income Solar Pilot Program must return a signed agreement before receiving payment. All participating customers are required to provide a final report describing results upon completion of the project.
  • The project should benefit Minnesota Power retail customers that meet the income specifications outlined here. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate the largest impact to income-qualified customers, which could include renters.
  • The project must result in the installation of a solar PV system in Minnesota Power’s service territory. Priority will be given to systems with a nameplate capacity of 40 kilowatts (kW) or less.
  • Minnesota Power must retain ownership of all renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the system.
  • Projects must be consistent with the program design criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s a way to expand participation in solar power by funding projects that explore innovative options for meeting the challenges associated with solar often faced by low-income customers.
At this time, few solar programs designed specifically to meet the needs of low income customers are available. This program is an opportunity to explore a variety of program structures and models to determine which would best support a long-term solar market for low-income customers in our region.
Projects must benefit income-qualified customers or facilities that serve income-qualified customers. Low income is defined as 50 percent of the state median income or 110 percent of the federal poverty level, whichever is greater. Please contact Minnesota Power if you have any questions about whether a project will qualify for participation in the Low Income Solar Pilot Program.
Projects must demonstrate how they meet the program design criteria, benefit income-qualified customers (priority will be given to projects that demonstrate the largest impact), and result in the installation of a solar PV system sized 40 kilowatts or less. Minnesota Power must retain ownership of all renewable energy credits associated with the project.
The design criteria are energy conservation, accessibility and empowerment, customer protection and affordability, sustainability and flexibility, community engagement, innovation, and accountability.
Program funding is limited. The program committee will meet annually to review applications and determine which projects best meet the program requirements and award funding. Project applicants that don’t receive funding will be encouraged to apply again in subsequent years.
Projects submitted to Minnesota Power will be reviewed by the Low Income Solar Pilot Program Committee, a group of MP employees and regional stakeholders who have demonstrated a commitment to the community, the advancement of renewable energy and economic development.
The annual program budget is $55,000
The Low Income Solar Pilot Program will be offered in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It will be re-evaluated after that.

How do I apply?

Interested parties can submit an application online here.

For questions about the program or application process, please call (218) 355-3720 and press 4 or email solarprogram@mnpower.com.