Minneapolis Solar Group Buy Program: Save 10% or more on solar

Published on 16 Jan, 2019 by Michael Bishop

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Starting in 2019, the City of Minneapolis will give residents around $1,500 to go solar. It’s more complicated than that, but this article will explain how you can ultimately get around $1,500 to help pay for your new solar panels.

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Will the City of Minneapolis send me a check?

Nope. If a local solar company offers you a discount on your solar system, then that solar company is eligible to receive a payment from the city around $1,300 (for a typical 4 kilowatt solar system). Or around $1,800 if you live in a Minneapolis green zone (these are designated “environmental-justice” zones).

We assume your discount will roughly match the city payment received by the solar company (we encourage you to ask the solar company about this).


What makes it a “Solar Group Buy” program?

To get the city payment, the solar company needs to include at least 5 proposed solar systems in their Solar Group Buy application (including yours).

The larger group purchase should help the solar company get the solar panels and other equipment at a lower price (at least that’s the idea behind the program). ...Maybe their bulk-purchase discounts mean they can offer you a discount higher than the city payment!


Is this also called the Solar Twin Cities Group Buy Program?

Nope, the Solar Twin Cities program is different. A big difference is that the Solar Twin Cities program is organized by the non-profit Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). It doesn’t include city-government incentives, and has a strong energy-education focus. Here are active MREA group buy programs.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Solar Group Buy Program was initiated by City of Minneapolis local government. It includes government incentives!


How do I take advantage of this discount?

Find a few well-reviewed solar installers in your area at the SolarReviews website. Ask them if they’re participating in the City of Minneapolis’s “Green Cost Share’s Solar Group Buy” program (yup, that’s a mouthful). If they are, ask if they can offer you a related discount on your solar system. Or if they aren’t familiar with the program, you can share this detail webpage with them.


How is the government rebate actually determined?

Your solar system’s year-1 production will be estimated using the online PVWatts solar calculator. The incentive is based on this solar production estimate, times 25¢ per kilowatt-hour (or 35¢ per kilowatt-hour if you live in a green zone).

The total incentive across all solar systems in the application will be paid to the solar company (with a $100,000 maximum).


What will my solar panels cost after the discount?

According to real up-to-date pricing data at at solarreviews.com, the average cost of a 4 kilowatt solar system in Minneapolis is $12,000 (after a 30% federal tax credit). After the city discount (offered indrectly through your chosen solar company), your system cost would be around $10,700. Or $10,200 if you live in a green zone.

If you get a loan to pay for your solar system, your upfront cost would be $0 and you could start saving money immediately! Sounds too good to be true? This Cut My Bill article walks through it for a Minneapolis family, with Xcel Energy electricity rates.


Conclusion

As solar panels get cheaper and more common, local incentives are going away. Fortunately, you and other Minneapolis residents have a significant incentive in the Solar Group Buy Program.



Author: Michael Bishop

Michael's core purpose is to improve the customer experience around going solar. He's pursuing that by writing content and software at CutMyBill.com.