Author Archives: Kyle Wehnes

Building Solar Generators for the Footprint Project

Going Beyond the Balance Sheet

Everyone at IPS continually looks for opportunities to make a positive impact beyond the balance sheet. Part of that effort included the formation of our Volunteer Team, which looks for non-profit organizations and volunteer opportunities across the US that fit our core values.

The Footprint Project is one of those organizations. Their mission is to provide clean energy for communities in crisis, and have done that by deploying 150+ kW of mobile solar and 550+ kWh of mobile battery storage to 15+ disaster response and recovery missions, providing emergency clean power access to 25,000+ US citizens.


Building the Generators

We reached out to Footprint to see how we could help, and the idea for a pilot project was born. Traditionally, Footprint deploys large solar trailers to the disaster areas it aids. The pilot project focused on building smaller mobile solar generators that could be left behind in communities of need and used to power everyday consumer electronics or other household necessities.

With our solar expertise, IPS was the perfect company to lead this new program. Our engineering team worked closely with the Footprint Project and New Use Energy to design a generator that housed a powerful battery while remaining easily movable. Not only did the engineering team have to design the generator, they had to create an instructional lesson plan that would allow a group of novices (AKA the rest of the IPS team) to actually build them.

Once the design and lesson plans were finalized, materials were ordered and a date was chosen to host a ‘solar build party’ at our Roseville office. On build day, our talented and endlessly patient engineering team lead their co-workers through the assembly of the generators. Thanks to the engineering team’s oversight, and an enthusiastic team of IPS volunteers, we now had three completed generators ready to be delivered to New Orleans.

New Orleans Road-Trip

In July a crew of six IPS team members made the 1,200-mile drive from Minneapolis to New Orleans with a plan to meet up with several Footprint Project volunteers and spend three days dropping off the generators, educating residents on how they worked and getting to know the city.

After an overnight pit stop in Missouri, our crew of Rachael, Eric, Ian, Kristin, Frank & Jake arrived in New Orleans and delivered the first generator to VIET (Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training), a community center that works to develop educational and economic training programs for minority residents in Louisiana. The Vietnamese community is often overlooked when it comes to disaster assistance, something that both VIET and the Footprint Project and trying to change. A recent string of severe weather left residents in VIET’s East New Orleans neighborhood without electricity for two months. That power is needed for cold food storage, air conditioning and an internet connection that can be used to apply for funding grants and insurance claims.

Later that day, the team braved the Louisiana summer heat, traveled to a nearby church, and disassembled a solar array connected to a Tesla Powerwall battery. The disassembled panels will now be used as a mobile system in places of need.

On day two our team split up into two groups. Frank and Kristin delivered one of the generators to Pointe-Aux Chene, a Native American community outside of New Orleans, while Ian, Jake, Rachael and Eric delivered a generator to another local reservation. Both teams showed residents how the generator works, how to set up panels and charge the system. The evening was spent exploring the various restaurants and music venues New Orleans has to offer.

On the final full day of the trip, Kristin, Frank & Rachael held a training session with 30 local residents, showing them how to build additional solar generators themselves. The training will allow Footprint Project to hold more ‘solar build parties’ like the one IPS hosted back in March. To wrap things up, our team was treated to a tasty crawfish and spring roll dinner prepared by Lang, who heads up the VIET community center.

After completing the return road trip, Frank Lorenz reflected on his experience. “It was truly a humbling experience setting up and delivering these generators with the Footprint Project. The solidarity and gratitude of the community was truly awesome. I was amazed that over 30 people in the community showed up on Saturday to take time out of their weekend for the build party.” 

Impact Power Solutions Takes Spot on 2022 Top Solar Contractors List

IPS Ranked as Top Contractor for 11th Straight Year 

[ROSEVILLE, MN, 7/26/22] — Despite concerns over supply chain interruptions and tariff investigations, the U.S. solar industry saw record solar and energy storage demand in 2021. Impact Power Solutions can attest to this, having one of its busiest years yet. Solar Power World has recognized the company’s installation success by ranking IPS at No. 103 overall on the 2022 Top Solar Contractors list. IPS has been featured as a Top Solar Contractor every year since the list’s inception. Along with their 103rd overall ranking, IPS was ranked 16th nationally among solar developers and 2nd among Minnesota developers.

The Top Solar Contractors list is developed each year by industry magazine Solar Power World to honor the work of solar installers in the United States. Solar firms in the utility, commercial and residential markets are ranked by number of kilowatts installed in the previous year. Companies are grouped and listed by specific services, markets and states.

“The utility-scale solar market, of course, puts up huge installation numbers each year, but the majority of workers in the industry are constructing projects in the commercial and residential markets, which continue to break records,” said Kelly Pickerel, editor in chief of Solar Power World. “Over 85% of the companies on the 2022 Top Solar Contractors List primarily work in the residential and commercial sectors, and they all reported closing out the last year in a positive light.”

According to data released by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie — before recent federal decisions to prevent additional tariffs on imported solar panels — the United States is expected to install 11 GW less than originally predicted in 2022, due to continued supply chain constraints, price increases and interconnection challenges. Still, a survey of the 2022 Top Solar Contractors class found that 59% predicted their business would increase in the next year, with only 9% assuming business would decrease.

IPS employs 32 workers who helped install over 22 Megawatts of solar power in 2021. Since its founding in 1991, the company has installed over 170 Megawatts of solar. The company remains dedicated to positively impacting people, power and the planet with solar energy.


About Solar Power World

Solar Power World is the leading online and print resource for news and information regarding solar installation, development and technology. Since 2011, SPW has helped U.S. solar contractors — including installers, developers and EPCs in all markets — grow their businesses and do their jobs better.

About Impact Power Solutions

Impact Power Solutions, A New Energy Equity Company, is a full-service clean energy development company. For over 30 years, they have worked to deliver customers solutions ranging from rooftop installations to multi-megawatt community solar gardens.

Thanks For Solarbrating With Us!

Another Successful Solarbration!

Our second annual Solstice Solarbration Fundraiser is officially in the books and we’d like to extend a huge thank you everyone who helped make this special event possible! With the help of our event sponsors, raffle prize donors and attendees, we were able to raise over $7,000 for the Footprint Project and their mission of providing cleaner energy access to communities in crisis.

Check out some of our favorite pictures from the Solarbration at the Como Zoo & Conservatory! Tasty food & drinks, festive games, unique raffles, and a scavenger hunt – We hope you had as much fun as all of us. Don’t forget to share your own #solarbration pictures with us on social!

Sponsors: CED Greentech, CEEM, Muska, Sundial Energy, Unirac

Raffle Prize Donors: Como Bed & Breakfast, Connexus Energy, Eichten’s Cheese & Bison, Haven Nail Studio, Impact Power Solutions, Minnesota United FC, Minnesota Wild, Mom’s On The Run, Quality Resource Group, Utepils Brewing 

Announcing Our Second Annual Solstice Solarbration & Fundraiser!

Celebrate The Solstice With IPS!

We are excited to announce the second annual Solstice Solarbration Fundraiser! Join us at the Como Zoo & Conservatory as we celebrate the longest day of the year and support an amazing nonprofit!

The evening will include a tasty food, delicious drinks, festive music and games, with the conservatory’s beautiful views serving as the backdrop. We’ll be raising funds to support the Footprint Project, and learning more about their mission of providing cleaner energy access to communities in crisis.

Prepare for the rare occasion where the sequel is better than the original! 144 people attended the first Solarbration and we and raised over $4,000 for great causes. This year we are setting our sights even higher with a fundraising goal of $7,500!

Early Bird ticket pricing lasts until June 1st!! Reach out to for information on available sponsorship opportunities!

All proceeds from the event will support the Footprint Project’s work on hurricane resilience in Louisiana, and support humanitarian energy access for Ukraine. You can donate to the Footprint Project here. The IPS team is currently working with the Footprint Project to build mobile solar-powered generators that will be delivered to New Orleans communities impacted by recent extreme weather events. We’re extremely excited to partner with them for the Solstice Solarbration! 

Buy Tickets Now!

About The Footprint Project 

Footprint Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit disaster service organization that focuses on providing cleaner energy access to communities in crisis. We work across the disaster management cycle to deploy sustainable technologies where they are needed most.

Event Details 

What: Solstice Solarbration & Fundraiser presented by Impact Power Solutions
When: Tuesday, June 14th from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Where: Como Zoo & Conservatory

Vote for IPS as MN’s Best Solar Provider

We Need Your Support!

We’ve been nominated for the Star Tribune’s annual “Minnesota’s Best” contest! Impact Power Solutions, along with 21 other companies, is competing to be voted as Minnesota’s best solar provider. 

You can vote once per day through May 18th at this website. You’ll be able to find IPS within the “Home & Garden” category in the sub-category “Solar Energy Providers”. You should see a “thank you for voting” message once your vote is submitted. 

The results will be published in the Minnesota’s Best Winners Magazine, which will be inserted in the Star Tribune newspaper on Sunday, September 25th. We’re facing some stiff competition this year, so all support is appreciated! 

Category: Home & Garden 

Sub-Category: Solar Providers

Vote Now!

Everything You Need to Know About the Solar Investment Tax Credit

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most popular and successful federal policy mechanisms ever enacted to support renewable energy in the US. In the 15 years since its enactment, there has been 59% compound annual solar growth nationwide. With the step-down of the tax credit beginning at the end of 2022, potential solar customers have limited time left to take full advantage of its benefits. 


What is the ITC?

The ITC is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal corporate income taxes for 26 percent of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that is placed in service during that year. The tax credit is claimed against the tax liability of residential and commercial investors in solar energy property. This credit is used when homeowners purchase solar systems outright and have them installed on their homes or when businesses install, develop and/or finance solar projects.


History and Future of the ITC

The ITC was originally established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was set to expire at the end of 2007. Due to the success of the program Congress has extended its expiration date multiple times, most recently in 2020. That extension set up the tax credit to step down to 22 percent for all projects that begin construction in 2023. In 2024 the residential credit will drop to zero while the commercial and utility credit will drop to a permanent 10 percent.  


Why Act Now?

The upcoming stepdown will substantially increase your solar project’s total cost. Let’s run the numbers with a 100 kW array on a multi-home residential unit, retail space, or office building, which costs approximately $200,000.

With the current ITC rate of 26%, your savings would be roughly $52,000. At the end of 2022, those savings reduce to $44,000. In 2024, when the rate drops to 10%, savings are reduced to $20,000. Waiting two years before starting your project can end up costing you $32,000 in tax credit savings.

Investment decisions like this aren’t made overnight. Fortunately, there is still time to save in 2021 and 2022 with safe harboring. 

Typical Industry System Size Current Savings 2023 Savings 2024 Savings
Non-Profits, Small Buildings 40 KW $26,000.00 $22,000.00 $10,000.00
Realestate, Retail, Large Office 100 KW $52,000.00 $44,000.00 $20,000.00
Manufacturing 500KW $208,000.00 $176,000.00 $80,000.00

*Approximate ITC savings based on typical industry and system size.

What is Safe Harboring?

Safe harboring is a legal (and sensible) method created by the IRS to freeze the current Solar ITC rate of 26% for up to 48 months. By beginning construction with continuous work, or by investing 5% of the project cost before the December 31st deadline, the IRS will essentially grandfather you into this year’s credit rate, even if your project is not complete. 

Be aware that safe harboring involves a much greater level of detail than what we covered here. Renewable Energy World’s article on the subject is a fantastic resource, and we’re always happy to get in touch and share our expertise when it comes to solar projects.   

Impact of the ITC Step-Down

According to Energy Information Administration data in 2015 (when the ITC was scheduled to expire at the end of the next year), if the 30% credit was not extended, rooftop solar photovoltaic installations would plunge 94% in 2017 and utility-scale projects would decline 100%, with neither recovering anywhere close to today’s levels even a decade from now.  Bloomberg predicted solar installations would drop by two-thirds in 2017, which the Solar Energy Industries Association estimated would cost America 100,000 jobs.

The economic projections aren’t as grim this time around. A study from Bloomberg estimates that the loss of the tax credit will cause solar capacity to only quadruple, instead of quintuple, by 2022, which is still a substantial increase. A Wall Street Journal analysis reinforces this assessment. 

So, what has changed over the last few years to mitigate the effect of ITC’s decline? For starters, this stepdown is less severe than the proposed 2015 iteration, which called for a straight drop from 30 to 10 percent. The more gradual step-down, combined with recent legislation that allows homeowners to claim their tax credit as soon as the construction of the system begins (as opposed to when the system is operational), will allow significantly more installs to qualify for a higher credit. Additionally, solar installation prices have continued their sharp decline. The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% since 2010, and prices as of Q4 2018 are at or near their lowest historical level across all market segments.

The solar industry will still prosper without the ITC. However, the planned growth will not be as dynamic. Customers should be aware of the impending changes and plan accordingly, but can still be optimistic about sustained industry growth.

As an IPS client, we take care of all applications and permits necessary to complete your project. Our knowledge of state, federal, and utility incentive programs allows us to maximize savings for our customers and source more funding than any other developer. Contact us to get your questions answered and get started today.





Wall Street Journal




The Pathway to Larger-Scale Solar in Minnesota – Parts 1-4

Click the links below to read parts 1-4 of Ralph Jacobson’s The Pathway to Larger-Scale Solar in Minnesota series. 


Part 1: How Can We Steer the Market For DG Solar?


Part 2: The 4th Market Bucket of Dispersed Solar


Part 3: How Much Can the CSG Model be Scaled Up?


Part 4: Community Benefits and Distributed Solar

IPS Solar is now Impact Power Solutions


IPS Solar is now Impact Power Solutions.

We are proud to share that we have a new name and brand identity! It’s a different look, but rest assured, our core beliefs haven’t changed at all. Our unwavering commitment to our values, our customers and our mission remains the same.

All companies work to generate profits and create value, but the best run-companies do more. They have a broader, more complete view of corporate responsibility that is focused on creating value for all. That mindset has helped pilot our business for 30 years, emphasizing long-term success over short-term gains. Now, as our company enters this exciting new era, we feel that it’s time to update our name and mission to reflect those beliefs. 

We believe our new name, Impact Power Solutions, better embodies who we are, what we believe in, and how we help our clients succeed. As we grow, so does the impact we have on our clients, the communities we serve, and the climate. We are dedicated to maximizing that impact on and off the balance sheet.

That means continuing current initiatives like our Sunrise Educational Program and our efforts promoting local workforce development, while starting new ones like our partnership with the American Forests Organization to plant one tree for every kilowatt of solar we install.  

Company founder Ralph Jacobson is taking on a new role as Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer.  This will allow him to expand his efforts with under-represented communities.  Ralph is working on phase two of the Red Lake Solar project this year, bringing in tribal members to learn about solar technology and career pathways while installing panels on roofs. 

Our core purpose – to build a better future by providing access to renewable energy – has always been the foundation of our success, and will remain the cornerstone of who we are as we take on a new name and look. 

We’d like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of the clients and partners who have helped us make the last 30 years a success. We can’t wait for the next 30! 

The Case for a Green Recovery in Minnesota

Rooftop Solar Installation


Author: Eric Pasi

Clean energy can and should be the focal point of a post-pandemic recovery. Wind, solar, electrification and energy efficiency projects create jobs, bolster rural and urban economies, and can transform the social inequities made transparent by this virus. Currently, about a quarter of electricity production in Minnesota is renewable, a number that has been steadily rising over the last decade.

A series of studies released this month by E2 and BW Research showed that clean energy jobs have grown 10.2% year over year since 2015; one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. But like the rest of the economy, clean energy needs a stimulus. According to the same research the sector lost more than 106,000 jobs in March – erasing all gains made in 2019.

Blueprint: 2009 federal grants

Policymakers should look to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as a blueprint. The ARRA provided grants in lieu of tax credits so that businesses could invest even if their tax liabilities were low or nonexistent. In 2010 our company, IPS Solar, helped a local hardware store and a nursery in Lester Prairie install projects with the help of these grants, which lowered their bills and boosted our business. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the ARRA helped support 900,000 clean energy jobs from 2009 to 2015. And the initial boost worked. As the solar industry ramped up, costs declined significantly; compared to 2010, solar panels today are about 89% more cost effective and efficiency has improved considerably.

Clean energy helps rural communities by providing new tax revenue for local governments. County in southern Minnesota has received $19 million in wind taxes since 2004, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. In 2019, wind lowered the county’s tax levy by nearly 3 percent. For the Red Wing School District, a 2016 community solar project developed and constructed by IPS is projected to save local taxpayers over $6 million.

State governments looking to address critical economic, environmental, and social issues should absolutely consider green power. In Minnesota, the Legislature controls funding in the Renewable Development Account – from fees on Xcel’s storage of nuclear waste, which has now accumulated a total of roughly $84 million since 2014. Now is the time to spend these unencumbered dollars as a clean energy stimulus.

Initiatives like Solar on Schools would provide important 21st-century learning opportunities for students and help districts save money. Energy savings from the program would return $2 to local property taxpayers for every dollar spent out of the account, when leveraged with private financing. Funding can also go toward continuing Xcel’s successful Solar Rewards program, which has specific solar incentives for small-scale solar and solar for affordable housing. These incentives in turn help businesses thrive, growing their workforces and strengthening local economies.

Abysmal disparities

Finally, this disaster has highlighted abysmal disparities between wealthy and poor communities – especially for communities of color. Blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to live downstream from coal plants or near hazardous waste sites. In 2015 the death rate from asthma for black children was 10 times higher than the rate for white children. Exposure to more air pollution is one of the primary factors.

A study from Harvard University, updated on April 5, confirmed a direct correlation between long-term exposure to air pollution and a higher risk of death from coronavirus. Those suffering from respiratory illness are at a much higher risk of death. For areas in which we have information, blacks are 2.1 times as likely to die from this disease, according to data compiled by the Associated Press. Recovery dollars should go toward reducing the inequities that contribute to this overrepresentation. Strategies such as lowering vehicle emissions and replacing coal plants with clean energy must be examined. 

Now is not the time to think small — all of these issues are intertwined. As tragic and disruptive as this virus is to so many across Minnesota and the country, the future complexities and price tag from the climate crisis will dwarf this pandemic. Our recovery strategy needs to be bold, and it needs to be green.

Integrating Solar Into Minnesota’s Sustainable Building 2030 Program

Author: Steve Oman

According to the Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 program, projects starting design between 2010 and 2015 must reduce EUI (energy-use intensity) by 60 percent compared to an average building in 2003; projects starting design between 2015 and 2020 must reduce EUI by 70 percent; projects starting design between 2020 and 2025 must reduce by 80 percent; and projects starting design between 2025 and 2030 must reduce EUI by 90 percent.

Since the beginning of this year, IPS Solar is hearing from more Architectural and Construction firms interested to learn how to integrate solar into their sustainable building design. This seems to be driven by the decrease in EUI from 70% to 80% staring in 2020.  ”We can’t get to 80% without integrating solar” is becoming a popular refrain.

While SB is mandated for State of Minnesota funded buildings only, the standard can be readily applied to other multi-family and commercial/industrial buildings as well.

Because SB2030 requires the use of onsite solar, and rooftops offer the most available unobstructed square footage, rooftop solar is often seen as the go-to solution. In many cases this is true. There are a number of issues that can make or break a rooftop solar system that should be taken into consideration early on in the design process, including:

As the building height gets taller, physical attachment of the solar array to the roof may be required instead of a ballasted system
Parapets around the building edge can increase the snow load, adding to the total dead load on the roof
Locations of rooftop penetrations, including RTU’s, power vents and drains should be positioned so as to minimize interference with the best solar array layouts.

A representative solar layout on a 5 story multi-family development might look something like this:

solar layout of a 5 story multi-family development


In the past, solar was often restricted to offsetting electrical usage in the “common areas” of the building, including heated parking, elevators, lounges, fitness areas, and meeting rooms. With the advent of distributed control systems enabling monitoring of individual unit usage instead of individual meters for every unit, it is now possible for solar to offset a much larger percentage of the total electrical load in the building. For a building with significant usable square footage, this can be the difference between whether a 40 kilowatt or 240-kilowatt solar array ends up on the roof.

One final thought – since the payback criteria for SB2030 is a relatively long 15 years, other onsite solar options that can help meet SB2030, such as solar carports and urban solar awnings, are now affordable too.  Solar carports can be cost effective for a small number of parking spots or in an even more expansive configuration.  And a smart solar management system can be integrated with EV charging stations to reduce demand charges. 

A spin-off of the traditional solar carport structure, the urban solar awning has a power density approximately 2.5x – 3x that of a rooftop solar installations A 100kW solar awning takes less than 1/8 of an acre (20′ x 240′) and can be ideally located along the property line, in lieu of a berm/landscaping, or even alongside a parking structure as an aesthetic upgrade!

urban solar awning

Pollinator-friendly plantings and native turf grass also provide a favorable environment for bees and help absorb water run-off.

Today there are more solar options than ever to help Architects and Developers meet SB2030. IPS Solar is committed to providing innovative, cost-effective solutions that help make integrating solar into SB2030 a reality.


Solar Carports provide another viable option to meet SB2030