Category Archives: Community Solar

How Solar Can Help Your Company Achieve Corporate Sustainability Goals

Many companies are turning to solar to achieve their corporate sustainability goals in response to shifting external factors, investor attitudes, and stakeholder preferences. With interest in corporate solar surging, we wanted to highlight recent examples of those external factors, show how solar can help, and illustrate how solar has helped our clients and collaborators achieve their goals. 

What Is Corporate Sustainability?

As the Ivey Business Journal puts it, “Corporate sustainability recognizes that corporate growth and profitability are important, it also requires the corporation to pursue societal goals, specifically those relating to sustainable development — environmental protection, social justice and equity, and economic development.”

Unfortunately, many companies struggle to gauge the effectiveness of their programs. A recent survey of both public and private companies revealed that while 81% of respondents’ companies have formal programs in place, only 50% of those respondents believe their company performs effectively. Fortunately, solar can help companies produce substantial, measurable results for their corporate sustainability goals. 

Environmental Protection 

A recent United Nations report, approved by 195 governments and based on 14,000 studies, confirms that humans are responsible for climate change. While the results are unsettling, there is still hope to achieve the best outcome with a coordinated effort and swift policy change. Since solar energy systems do not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases, they can drastically reduce your organization’s carbon footprint and are also an impactful way to advance your building’s green credentials. While your company may not influence policy, it can still take part in the coordinated effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Take The Vomela Companies’ on-site solar array as a recent example. The company is projected to offset nearly 36,000 tons of CO2 over the next 30 years, which will make a significant and positive environmental impact. That’s the equivalent to adding 44,000 acres of trees to our forests. Additionally, the company achieved the sustainable green printing certification by pairing solar with other environmentally conscious practices.

 

The Vomela Companies Rooftop Solar Array  An Aerial View of The Vomela Companies’ rooftop solar array in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Social Justice and Equity 

The senate recently passed the $1 trillion infrastructure plan, allocating $36 billion in investment to fight climate change. In the proposal it states that, “the plan prioritizes addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice. The plan targets 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities.” 

According to the IEA, solar energy has surpassed all other forms of energy as the most affordable electricity source in the world. Despite this, disadvantaged communities have less access to solar energy and its benefits compared to their counterparts. As outlined by the Scientific American, ”Racial and ethnic minorities have less access to solar power, regardless of income, highlighting the need for environmental justice.” Providing these communities with access to cheap, clean energy is an actionable way for organizations to take part in both social and environmental change.  

Look at Shiloh Temple’s rooftop community solar project as a recent example. Faith groups, businesses, and organizations across North Minneapolis banded together to create positive change. While other solar gardens are being developed to allow large corporations or municipal governments to subscribe, this garden demonstrates a new model by placing clean energy in a low-income community of color, creating green jobs for local residents, and ensuring access to community solar. 

 

Community members participating in Shiloh Temple's ribbon cutting eventCommunity members participating in Shiloh Temple’s ribbon cutting event.

Economic Development

In a recent statement by SEC chairman Gary Gensler, it was announced that plans are in development for mandatory climate reporting by the end of the year, signaling publicly traded organizations to be prepared for addressing environmental, social, and governance issues. Larry Fink’s 2021 annual BlackRock CEO letter said it best. “There is no company whose business model won’t be profoundly affected by the transition to a net zero economy.” 

Jobs in the solar industry are growing 17 times faster than the US economy and 90% of newly installed electric capacity was from renewable sources in 2020. Solar installer has been consistently ranked as one of the fastest growing jobs in the US in the past 5 years, according to the SEIA. Companies that meet their energy needs with rooftop solar are supporting economic development through manufacturing, installation, and more. Opportunities for companies to support economic development with solar are not limited to rooftop installations, either. Sourcing energy from community solar gardens provides economic support to rural communities, while giving farmers and landowners a valuable opportunity to diversify income streams. 

In a recent collaboration with Summit Academy, Target Corporation, and the City of Minneapolis, IPS led a workshop with recent Summit Academy grads and solar career hopefuls to help prepare them for NABCEP certification, the most well established certification in the renewable energy field. The IPS team shared their solar industry knowledge, the students received real world experience, and Target Corporation reinforced their commitment to renewable energy by supporting future renewable energy leaders.

 

Recent Summit Academy Grads, IPS team members, and Target representatives

Recent Summit Academy grads, Target representatives, and IPS team members.

Consider Solar for Accomplishing Your Company’s Corporate Sustainability Goals.  

If your company is looking for practical ways to achieve its corporate sustainability goals, we encourage you to evaluate solar. In addition to drastically reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, solar can compliment multiple company initiatives. Interested in learning more about what solar would look like for your company? Request a quote to see if solar is right for you! We’ve been happy to learn about your energy needs, educate inquirers, and demonstrate Solar’s payback for over 30 years.

2021 Top Solar Contractors: Our 10th Year

What is the 2021 Top Solar Contractor’s List?

Curated by Solar Power World, the Top Solar Contractors list is developed each year 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 service, markets and states.  Solar Power World has recognized our installation success by ranking Impact Power Solutions at No. 13 on the 2021 Top Solar Developers list.

From the Curators of the 2021 Top Solar Contractor’s List

“Not even COVID-19 closures and slowdowns could prevent the solar industry from installing fantastic numbers last year,” said Kelly Pickerel, editor in chief of Solar Power World. “The Solar Power World team is so glad to recognize over 400 companies on the 2021 Top Solar Contractors list that not only survived a pandemic but thrived in spite of it.”

A Year to Remember

The U.S. solar industry grew 43% in last year, installing more solar panels on homes, businesses and across the country than any other year on record. The residential market saw an 11% increase, which is remarkable considering the difficulties of maneuvering home solar projects through pandemic precautions.

The federal government passed a two-year extension on the solar investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2020, which will further accelerate solar adoption across all market segments. After installing 19.2 GW in 2020, research firm Wood Mackenzie expects the U.S. solar market to quadruple by 2030.

Regardless of the turbulence faced last year, solar energy has remained effective in combating greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to fossil fuels, and will continue to aid in efforts for economic recovery

Our Take On Being A Top Solar Contractor

When asked why we keep coming back to the top solar contractors list, Chief Development Officer Eric Pasi said “In the beginning it leant a lot of credibility to our small business, and still does today. It’s also a way to push our team to new heights, trying to beat last year’s statistics and keep growing, which we’ve been able to do.” 

We’re honored to be recognized as a Solar Power World top solar contractor. In the 30 years since our founding, we have never overcome challenges like the ones faced this year. We extend our deepest thanks to our employees, clients, and community for making the installation of 34,618 kilowatts of solar capacity possible, and for the positive impact we’ve made on the environment together. 

If you’re curious to see what solar would look like for your organization, feel free to reach out via email at info@ips-solar.com, contact us, or request a quote to learn more. 

30 Years Of Solar Ep. 5: Eichten’s Hidden Acres

A shot of the ground mounted solar array installed by IPS at Eichten’s Hidden Acres.  

Growing Trust with Landowners

Eichten’s Hidden Acres is an award winning cheese and buffalo ranch in Center City, Minnesota bordering Taylors Falls on the St. Croix River. The ranch has been family owned and operated since 1976, and is committed to energy efficiency and healthy farming. In 2011, Ed Eichten, the owner of Eichten’s Hidden Acres met with Eric Pasi, the Chief Development Officer of IPS. Ed wanted to learn more about investing in solar not only with the ranch in mind, but for the benefit of future generations. 

“I’ve always been very conscious of burning fossil fuels. I’m from a large family and have a lot of nieces and nephews, so it’s for that, and it’s just for humanity. It doesn’t make sense to keep polluting the atmosphere.”  – Ed Eichten

At the time of Ed and Eric’s conversation, IPS didn’t have a large presence in rural Minnesota and large ground-mounted projects weren’t common. Thankfully, Ed’s enthusiasm for solar led to a 40 kW project that would be completed the following year, and to the start of a long and prosperous relationship with IPS.

A few years later, Minnesota’s Community Solar Program was in its infancy and IPS was searching for landowners that were interested in leasing their land for a solar garden. These gardens would allow people in the local community without ideal roof conditions or finances to benefit from solar. Since the program was brand new and there wasn’t a history of successful projects to refer to, many landowners were skeptical.   

Ed felt as though his original system had already paid for itself, and once again thought it would be a good idea; not just for his own benefit, but for his community and the environment! Ed leased a portion of his land for the solar garden to IPS and construction began. Soon after, the 5 MW project was completed, giving a home to more than 15,000 solar panels to power the ranch and its surrounding community.

Ed Eichten touring the newly commissioned IPS community solar garden shorty after construction.   

“This was the first project we did in the area so they had a lot of questions to answer and we always got the answers we needed.” – Ed Eichten

Ed’s trust in IPS and the success of his project were instrumental in establishing IPS as a trustworthy company for landowners across the state. His early commitment and subsequent solar advocacy provided solar energy access to his community and opened the doors for over 50 (and counting) solar gardens.

2021 marks a major milestone for IPS, and we’d be thrilled to have you join us in celebrating 30 years of solar. Learn more about the event RSVP here!

The Infrastructure Plan: What it Means for Solar and Businesses

What Is the Infrastructure Plan?

The infrastructure plan, or the American Jobs Plan is a $2 trillion proposal from the Biden administration that aims to address the climate crisis while out-competing China. If enacted, the plan would be the largest government investment on record, surpassing President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. 

The Infrastructure Plan Focuses on:

  • Overhauling roads and bridges.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations and incentivized electric vehicle purchases.
  • Retrofitting homes for affordable energy efficiency.
  • Improvements to the US electric grid.
  • Research and development to position the US as a leader in clean energy.
  • Achieving 100% carbon free energy by 2035.
  • Equity and workforce development.

What it Means for Solar 

In short, expect to see solar doing more of what it’s great at. The plan aims to ‘spur jobs that modernize power generation and deliver clean electricity,’ calling for rapid deployment of solar, wind, and storage. The plan’s focus on energy efficiency is likely to benefit the solar industry, as the two work well together. Speaking of working well together, solar is complementary to EV charging stations, and likely to play a role in the plan’s focus on electrifying transportation. Solar can strengthen the electric grid, and solar industry leaders are already focusing on equity and workforce development. While achieving 100% carbon free energy by 2035 is no easy task, solar is well positioned to be a major contributor as the world’s most affordable energy source, and create jobs even faster.

What it Means For Businesses

The plan focuses on ‘Creating a national network of small business Incubators and innovation hubs,’ providing business owners access to credit, capital and R & D dollars. It includes funding to support entrepreneurial growth in communities of color, and will partner with rural and tribal communities to create jobs and support economic growth. While the plan includes a corporate tax rate increase from 21% to 28%, that is lowered from its prior rate of 35% in 2017. Fortunately for business owners and the solar industry, a 10 year extension of the solar tax credit would be enacted, allowing plenty of time to save 26% on a newly installed solar array.

IPS is happy to share our expertise on available solar incentives. We’ve helped businesses save as much as possible with solar for over 30 years. Interested in learning more? Reach out for a free solar analysis today.

Community Solar Gardens: The Basics

Solar energy isn’t just for rooftops anymore. With community solar, tenants and building owners now have access to solar energy, regardless of their roof’s characteristics or available capital. It’s more than monthly savings on electricity – it’s a leap toward increased renewable energy access, economic benefit to rural communities, and a reduced carbon footprint.

 

How Does Community Solar Work?

Community Solar gardens are off-site solar arrays that produce energy sent to the electric grid. They’re similar to power plants, producing energy away from the end-user but are typically less than 5 MW in electrical capacity. (Enough energy to power roughly 542 homes per year.)


Community Solar Gardens (CSG’s) are often found in rural areas on parcels of leased land that are not currently being used for agriculture. These locations are optimal for solar energy production, and the duration of the lease allows the land to naturally replenish nutrients for future crops. During installation a pollinator-friendly seed mix is planted in order to provide a habitat for native bees, butterflies and other wildlife. CSGs can be completed with little impact on current operations and require little to no maintenance. When the lease is up, the equipment is removed and the land is returned to the owner unharmed.

 

What are the Benefits of Community Solar?

  • The need for building ownership, ideal roof conditions, and approval from local agencies is eliminated for people that want solar energy. 
  • More people have access to the benefits of renewable energy. 
  • landowners can diversify their income streams without investing any overhead.
  • Local economies benefit from the additional income generated from, and saved by, the leasing and subscription to CSG’s.

 

How do I Get Started?

Many utility companies have programs available, allowing you to subscribe to a CSG. A community solar subscription allows you to use a portion of the energy produced, with savings applied as credits to your monthly bill. If you’re a landowner and you think your parcel might be a good location for a solar site, you can contact a solar developer. 


Whether you’re interested in hosting a CSG or looking for a subscription plan that fits your needs, Impact Power Solutions is here to assist your renewable energy transition. 

 

Impact Power Solutions Ranked top 10 Solar Developer in the US

What is the Top Solar Contractor’s List?

Curated by Solar Power World, the Top Solar Contractors list is made to showcase the work of solar installers and developers of all sizes. The list is determined by the number of kilowatts installed by a solar energy company in the previous year, divided into categories by the type of service the top solar contractor provides, regions, and states.

From the Curators of the Top Solar Contractor’s List

“The Solar Power World team is so pleased to highlight more than 400 companies on the 2020 Top Solar Contractors list, especially during this unprecedented time,” said Kelsey Misbrener, senior editor of Solar Power World. “All contractors featured on the 2020 list reported strong 2019 installation numbers and are continuing to stand tall this year.”

Top Solar Contractors Continue To Strive For Recovery

Despite COVID-19 being the immediate issue for the world to address, reducing carbon emissions to aid in climate change remains a top priority that affects all of us. 


The top solar contractors that made the list, the people we work with, and the communities we live in are all facing obstacles that have never been seen before. Q1 showed the largest amount of solar capacity ever installed in the United States, adding 3.6 GW of solar capacity. The force of these challenges emerged in Q2, with forecasts of 25% and 38% decreases in year to year volumes in 2020. 


Regardless of the turbulence faced in these uncertain times, solar energy is still effective in combating greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to fossil fuels, and will continue to aid in efforts for economic recovery

Our Take On Being A Top Solar Contractor

We’re thrilled to announce that we are the #1 solar developer in the Midwest, among the top 10 commercial solar developers in the US, and grateful to be a part of Solar Power World’s Top Solar Contractors list for the 8th consecutive year.

 

In the 29 years since our founding, we have never faced challenges like the ones we see today. We extend our deepest thanks to our employees, clients, and community for making the installation of 29,784 kilowatts of solar capacity possible, and for the positive impact we’ve made on the environment together. 

2020 Solar Trends: Xcel Solar Rewards Program

Xcel’s Solar*Rewards® program provides a financial incentive for residents, businesses and public entities to install solar power. Monthly payments are made to the owner of the solar system in exchange for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) produced by solar.  This is known as a performance-based incentive or PBI.


Xcel customers also qualify for Net Metering up to 1 megawatt AC (or enough power for roughly 200 homes).  If you generate more than you need, the extra energy is added to the grid, and any excess energy will be credited to your bill. 

Additionally, there’s a specific sub-program for under-resourced communities and income-qualified multi-family.


It is important to note that small commercial incentives levels are decreasing.


Also, large projects qualify for a separate bill-credit mechanism called capacity credit program or ELPC which was strengthened in 2019.

 

2020 Solar Trends: Minneapolis Green Cost Share Program

The City of Minneapolis is offering an incentive to install solar: the Green Cost Share Program. Qualifying projects will be compensated based on the solar array’s projected first year kilowatt hour production, up to $50,000.  Funding ranges from $.20 to $.40.


Priority will be given to buildings in designated Green Zones and to buildings that are participating in the 4D Affordable Housing Program.


Worth noting, projects receiving funding will require prevailing wage.

 

2020 Solar Trends: Corporate Solar

Major corporations are really stepping up and making a commitment to sustainability and clean energy! Industry leaders like Target, Walmart, IKEA, and Cargil have decided to leverage solar to benefit their business and the environment. 

 

Additionally, real estate investment trusts are also getting in the mix. Earlier this year, we announced two new projects with STAG where we are leasing their roofs for community solar projects!

 

2020 Solar Trends: National Price Trends

Good news, from a high level view, is that there’s continued downward pressure on system pricing. There are, however, several factors that are working against this trend and increasing cost.


Tariffs are a major factor. In 2018, the US international trade commission levied an import tariff on solar products, which phases down over four years.  This has increased panel prices compared to the rest of the world by as much as 60%.