On October 18 and 19, 2021, some members of the team at All Energy Solar had the opportunity to attend the eighth annual Gateway to Solar conference in Downtown Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency.
Sponsored by Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA), the Gateway Conference is a two-day event that brings together solar professionals from across the country, including installers, manufacturers, utilities, government agencies, and more. Attendees came to meet other solar practitioners, attend in-depth education sessions, hear from solar leaders and state legislators, and learn about the future of Minnesota solar. Representative Patty Acomb, State Representative Jamie Long, Senator David Senjem, Senator Jason Rarick, and Commissioner Grace Arnold provided the closing keynote.
The MnSEIA team put together an informative, and most importantly safe event, despite the complications of a pandemic. This year, All Energy Solar had the distinction of being named Member of the Year for 2021. We appreciate the work that MnSEIA does and are honored to be recognized for our support.
Here is a collection of takeaways and photos from the Gateway to Solar event.
States Can Only Do So Much — We all saw what happened in Texas when the power grid failed in February. The need to secure diversified energy production and a robust transmission grid has never been made more clear. Energy reliability is vital for citizens, and there is a need to invest in transmission at the federal level to transform the grid. Strengthen the patchwork of systems by “knitting” them together into a more organized pattern for an overall smoother operation.
Xcel Energy Interconnection — Xcel Energy has been prominent in the news due to long waits for interconnection, even drawing a $1 million fine in January for the number of complaints that have been filed. Xcel has been beefing up staff to facilitate resolutions between installers, developers, and the utility. However, they have realized they’re still not moving fast enough and are taking corrective measures to fix the situation as quickly as possible.
Shining a Light on Supply Chain Woes — This ever-present pandemic has caused supply chain issues in essentially every industry, and solar panel installation is no different. This is the first year since 2014 that solar costs didn’t decrease. In fact, the course has reversed and there’s a good chance costs will continue to rise into 2022. Solar isn’t alone in this, though, as coal, natural gas and oil prices have also gone up.
Solar Panel Recycling — The good news is that most solar panels are comprised mainly of recyclable materials, such as metal, glass, and copper wiring. The bad news is that not many private companies offer solar panel recycling. The consensus is that Minnesota needs a statewide collection and recycling program for solar panels, with key stakeholders currently evaluating the best available models.
Solar as Branding — A new buzzword among corporations is "Emissionality", which essentially breaks down to “What are your emissions to do business?” Reputation management is becoming a big concern for many businesses throughout Minnesota (and beyond). Consumers and employees are paying more and more attention to the brands they buy. Businesses that are more in touch and display a moral compass see a competitive edge and differentiator by using solar.
Solar on Schools — There’s a great new opportunity to get more solar power spread among our school districts. A carve-out of funding for Minnesota Solar on Schools programs became law as part of the 2021 Commerce and Energy Omnibus bill. In addition to securing more energy independence for our schools, the program will open doors to more non-profit and government entities. The details of the program are still being worked out, stay tuned!
MnSEIA pursues its mission to grow solar energy industries as part of Minnesota’s clean energy transition by delivering strong public policy, education, job creation, and sustainable industry development.
Founded in 2009, All Energy Solar provides a full-service solar energy integration experience for residential, commercial, agricultural, and government customers looking to make the transition to solar energy. With industry-leading certifications and full electrical and building licenses, All Energy Solar installs quality solar power systems at competitive prices and monitors and maintains the systems after installation. To learn more, visit www.allenergysolar.com.
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