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Minnesota gets $263K to cut cost, red tape of solar installations

Updated: 12/13/2011 01:26:37 PM CST

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said today it will use a $263,000 federal grant to help reduce the cost of solar energy installations for small businesses and homeowners by streamlining permitting and connection rules across the state.

Solar installers estimate that dealing with different local permitting processes, as well as installation and design and maintenance rules, make up 40 percent of the cost of a solar installation.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Sunshot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge, which was awarded earlier this month, will go toward developing and promoting a set of "best practices" on solar installations, state officials said today, as well as increasing access to financing and creating guidelines on zoning issues.

The Energy Department distributed $12 million to 22 entities around the country, to encourage adoption of solar energy by cutting red tape and making installations easier and cheaper.

The Commerce Department has partnered with the League of Minnesota Cities and the state's utilities to work with the program, Commerce Department spokesman Matt Swenson said.

Differences in permitting and connecting to the grid can make the installations of rooftop solar panels differ widely in cost and time, Swenson said.

"For some installations, it can take a month, while for others it can take a few days," he said.

Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475. Follow him at

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Categories: Minnesota Solar Energy
Posted on December 21, 2011