Minnesota's Cedar Creek Energy Actively Seeks Solar Participants

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Solar energy is booming in Minnesota and now is a great time to get involved. There are a lot of options available including community solar gardens or a privately-owned solar systems for homeowners, businesses and farmers.

Solar works as a long-term hedge against rising electricity costs of 3-6 percent each year depending on your utility provider.

Cedar Creek Energy has been developing and installing solar projects throughout the Twin Cities for nearly a decade. The company is now seeking subscribers to participate in planned Community Solar Garden projects through Xcel’s recently approved program. This is a unique opportunity for homeowners, non-profit organizations and businesses to get involved in solar energy when previously prohibited from doing so as a result of barriers like shading, leasing a building or unable to pay upfront costs.

Alex Gast, Operations Manager at Cedar Creek Energy, says that, “I’ve seen countless situations where a business or an organization like a church has been interested in pursuing solar but has been prevented from moving forward with a project as a result of a structural setback or a rooftop surrounded by trees. We’ve had to turn down a lot of projects over the years and the Community Solar Garden program creates a new way to get involved when ownership isn’t a viable option.”

There are a few rules in the program like a participant not being able to subscribe to more that 40 percent of the garden’s output, a minimum of 5 subscribers per project and they must be located within the same or adjacent county to the project’s location. Cedar Creek Energy has secured land within the metro and rural parts of Minnesota so there is ample opportunity to sign up regardless of geography, that is, until subscriptions have been filled which is happening quickly.

Another option to consider is owning your own solar system and now is a great time to get started. Cedar Creek Energy is the go-to partner for privately-owned solar systems having installed hundreds of projects that are operating throughout Minnesota today. Initial consultations are free of charge and you can learn how you can take advantage of a 30 percent federal tax credit, retail net metering, utility rebates and more.

“Installing a solar system should be looked at as a savvy financial solution in addition to its environmental benefits,” says Cedar Creek’s President Rob Appelhof. “Solar works as a long-term hedge against rising electricity costs of 3-6 percent each year depending on your utility provider.”

Cedar Creek Energy installs and services projects in-house with its staffed installers and licensed electricians. “This allows us to keep costs down for our customers and have better control over installation schedules,” adds Appelhof.

Solar projects are intended to produce electricity and revenue long-term, typically exceeding 30 years. There are some myths out there that Minnesota isn’t suitable for solar given the sometimes harsh weather conditions but this is simply untrue. In fact, Minnesota gets more average annual sunlight hours compared to leading solar countries like Germany. Solar panels are made to withstand hail storms and continue producing throughout the winter months, though most production occurs in the spring through fall. Solar panels are also backed by manufacturer product and production warranties which creates a risk free investment.

Harvesting the sun through solar energy is an excellent way for farmers to offset or even eliminate monthly utility bills. Solar energy is virtually maintenance free compared to typical farm crops and livestock and uses a minimal amount of roof or ground space to get the production needed. The USDA has created a renewable energy program grant program specifically for farmers that covers up to 25 percent of the total project costs. That’s in addition to the other tax and rebates incentives available for solar.

Matt Stupnik, Vice President of Cedar Creek Energy says that, “Farmers have been a key focus of Cedar Creek Energy’s business clientele. Many of our company employees (myself included) come from farming backgrounds and can understand the importance solar energy can have in allowing farmers to become more sustainable, energy independent and save money at the same time. We are proud to be a farmer friendly company.”

The USDA grant program does not have unlimited funding and the application deadline is October 31st so it is important to get started today.

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Brian Stuart, Senior Project Developer
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