Category Archives: IPS Solar

Celebrate the Solstice With IPS Solar!

 

IPS Solar is throwing a Solstice Solarbration & Community Fundraiser at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge! Join us as we celebrate the longest day of the year and support several amazing nonprofits!

The evening will include a tasty family style buffet, Psycho Suzi’s famous tropical drinks, festive music, games, fabulous raffle prizes and an unparalleled view of the Mississippi River from Suzi’s private waterfront balcony.

Get Tickets!

Ticket Options

-Early Bird Admission (Until June 1st): $65
-General Admission (After June 1st): $80

Your Ticket Includes: 

– 1 raffle ticket (additional tickets can be purchased at the event)
– 2 drink tickets
– Family style buffet dinner
– a night full of fun and adventure!

Supporting Sponsorship: $500 

– six event tickets
– your company name/logo listed on event promotional materials
– your company name/logo included on event signage and at table
– a shout out from the event hosts during opening remarks

Presenting Sponsorship: $1,000

– nine event tickets
– your company listed as event co-host on all promotional materials and event signage
– ability to set up a small promotional table at the event
– ability to make brief remarks during the event

 

Proceeds from the event will be supporting the work of several amazing nonprofits.
MN350: MN350 unites Minnesotans as part of a global movement to end the pollution damaging our climate, speed the transition to clean energy, and create a just and healthy future for all.

With the imagination and dedication of thousands of volunteers and working in coalition with organizations statewide, MN350 is making Minnesota a leader in the transition to a just and livable clean energy economy. MN350 uses a full range of peaceful methods, including policy advocacy, bold public events, political engagement and nonviolent direct action to change the rules of government and corporate behavior.                                                   

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy: Climate Generation was founded by polar explorer, Will Steger, based on his powerful eyewitness to climate change from over 50 years exploring the Polar Regions. We recognize the power of eyewitness accounts and personal story, acknowledging that as our world warms, we all have a climate story to tell. Our programs work to realize our vision: a world of resilient communities with equitable solutions to climate change and our mission to empower individuals and their communities to engage in solutions to climate change.

We provide educators, youth, policymakers, communities, and business leaders with the resources and opportunities to engage in solutions to climate change. Across these audiences, our programs work to build climate literacy, develop powerful climate advocates, and elevate leadership. Each year we reach 5,000 educators, 3,500 youth, and thousands of people through our public engagement.

Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light: MNIPL is an interfaith community co-creating a just and sustainable world. They work in partnership with faith communities to build transformative power and bring the lights of people’s unique gifts to addressing the climate crisis.

They do this in two ways: leadership development programs and action opportunities that provide tangible ways to make an impact. MNIPL believes that it’s not enough to offer people opportunities to take action on the issues they care about. Instead, they believe leadership development and organizing training empower individuals to build a movement capable of creating a just and livable climate for the human and more than human world.

2019 Brings Changes to Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Program

Xcel Energy’s popular Solar*Rewards incentive program has undergone a few key changes for 2019. These changes are highlighted by adjusted incentive rates, additional consumer protection provisions, and a new low-income branch of the program.  These changes come only six months after the Minnesota Legislature passed HF 3232, which raised the capacity size limit for Solar*Rewards projects from 20kW to 40kW. You can read about that change here.


Incentive Rate Changes


In 2018 both commercial and residential program participants received $.08 for every kilowatt hour of electricity they produced.  This year, the incentive rates have dropped to $.06 per kWh for commercial participants and $.07 per kWh for residential participants.  While these reduced rates will lower the financial benefit program participants receive, they will allow the total incentive budget to be split among more projects.

 


Consumer Protection Provisions


The Solar*Rewards program now requires every installer submitting a residential application to be a licensed Minnesota Residential Building Contractor.  This aims to help protect customers by ensuring that only qualified installers are using the program.  


The new MN Contractor Recovery Fund was also created with customers in mind. The fund compensates owners or lessees of residential property in Minnesota who have suffered actual and direct out-of-pocket loss due to a licensed contractor’s fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices, or failure of performance.


Income Qualified Incentives


This year Xcel Energy has added Income Qualified Incentives into the Solar*Rewards program.  These incentives are only available to customers that meet certain income guidelines and have separate rates for residential, non-profit & multi-family, and solar garden customers.

 


Unlike the traditional Solar*Rewards incentives, the Income Qualified Incentives are structured as an upfront per-watt rebate combined with a production incentive. Xcel has set aside between 10 and 20 percent of the total incentive pool specifically for these projects. With the current budget at just over $9,000,000, at least $900,000 will be set aside for Income Qualified Incentives.  

Announcing Our Next Commercial Solar Power Hour

Join us for some tasty appetizers and great beer in Surly’s Scheid Hall Room on March 13th. Happy hour begins at 4:00 pm followed by a formal discussion at 5:15 pm. Network with fellow professionals and learn how investing in solar can decrease your business’ tax liability.  We will focus on how the upcoming expiration of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has created a sense of urgency for businesses looking to switch to solar. Tickets are $20.

Your ticket gets you:
– Entry into the event
– Free access to Surly’s collection of tap beers
– Free appetizers served throughout the evening

 

Featured Speakers

Norman Jones –  Shareholder / Attorney – Winthrop & Weinstine 

Norm has been structuring and closing tax credit transactions at Winthrop and Weinstine for over 20 years. In that time, he has closed over 700 megawatts of renewable energy tax credits. His accolades include being named Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorney of the Year in 2006, and one of Real Estate Law’s Best Lawyers in America for 2018-2019.

Eric Pasi – Chief Development Officer – IPS Solar

Since 2007 Eric’s helped to accelerate significant solar power adoption in Minnesota and the upper Midwest for IPS Solar. Pasi has developed notable projects including the Green Line Solar Corridor, more than 70 megawatts of community solar, and the company’s successful Solar & Schools program.

 

Surly Tap List
– Axe Man – IPA
– Space Race – Hazy IPA
– Liquid Stardust – Brut IPA
– Circular Reasoning – Roggenbier
– Resilience – IPA
– Furious – IPA
– DAF – Brut IPA
– Pentagram – Brett Dark Sour Ale
– Staycation – Pineapple Lactose IPA
– Weizenbock – Weizenbock

 

Event Menu
– Cheese board | selection of artisanal cheeses, honeycomb, marmalade, candied nuts, crostini & crackers
– Antipasto | sopressata, coppa, mortadella, artichokes, olives, giardiniera, crostini & crackers
– Chilled dips | pimento cheese, pico de gallo, black bean salsa, hummus
– Tater tot hot dish | smoked pork & brisket, mushrooms, corn, chilies
– Heirloom green salad | marcona almonds, radish, pickled tomato manchego, sherry vinaigrette
– Mini lobster rolls | butter toasted bun
– Cuban sliders | smoked pork, house-cured ham, mojo sauce, pickles, gruyere
– Smoked salmon crostini | house-smoked salmon, creamy shallot spread
– Deviled eggs trio | cornichon | piquillo relish & bacon | radish & pickled ..mustard seed (GF)
– Lamb gyro skewers | lamb meatball, tomato, cucumber, tzatziki sauce (GF)
– Sambal chicken skewers (GF)
– Chocolate chip cookies

 

We hope to see you there!

Illinois Communities Preparing for Solar

By Amit Shukla

Illinois’s Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) will be the premier legislation to drive renewable energy and economic development in the state of Illinois. Many communities, townships, school districts, colleges, and building owners are gearing up for this legislation.

Along with energy efficiency improvements, this legislation calls for 1.3 GW of wind and 3 GW of solar by 2030. About 1500 MW of solar needs to be built by 2021 and of this approximately 670 MW is distributed generation. The Illinois Power Agency has issued the Renewable Energy Procurement Plan.

The intent of this blog post is to summarize the new “Adjustable Block Program” program.

In a market where energy prices are cheap, the primary mechanism to incentivize these projects is via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). One REC is equivalent to 1 MWh and it’s the “clean energy” attribute of generating renewable energy. These certificates will be set according to the “Adjustable Block Program” for community solar and behind the meter projects.

Depending on the size of the project and the utility company whose territory the project lies in, the Illinois Power Agency will grant REC values to incentivize these projects. There are separate blocks for community solar and those for distributed generation (DG), which consists of commercial, industrial, and residential.

On the community solar side, based on IPAs draft procurement plan, these REC values may range from just above $100/REC to just under $50/REC. Similarly on the DG side, these REC values may range from close to $80/REC to $30/REC, depending on size and the block.

IPA has issued the first three blocks and the REC values in these blocks will reduce over time. Hence it is important to get in early. These REC values will be paid at an accelerated level of 100% up front for residential solar and within five years for commercial and community solar projects. All incentives along with the federal investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation are expected to defray the upfront cost of doing solar.

Click here to read more!

Minneapolis Debuts World’s First Solar Farm Cider

Among the rolling hills adjacent to a nature preserve in St. Joseph Minnesota is Milk & Honey Ciders. Their latest crisp and balanced cider is “Solar Sweet Farm Cider”, a collaboration with the beekeepers at Bare Honey which tend a busy family of happy honey bees on the solar farm adjacent to the cidery.

IPS Solar and nonprofit Fresh Energy helped make the connection between the beekeepers and the cidery. IPS develops all of its solar farms to have abundant pollinator habitat. Project Manager for IPS and former ASES Board Member Laura Cina says “I think all of the old school solar installers are really just big hippies at heart, so if it costs a little extra to plant vegetation that will boost biodiversity, prevent erosion, help save the pollinators, than that’s what we’re going to do.” Fresh Energy is the nation’s leading nonprofit group highlighting the opportunity for solar farms to provide beneficial habitat for pollinators including bees and butterflies. Minnesota Native Landscapes manages the flowers and vegetation at the solar farm.

Acclaimed restaurateur and two-time James Beard award semifinalist, Kim Bartmann is excited to highlight this delicious collaboration at her restaurants in Minneapolis just in time to celebrate all the work that pollinators did earlier this year in apple orchards throughout Minnesota.

About Solar Sweet Farm Cider
“Solar Sweet Farm Cider” — Golden Russet & Kingston Black apples with honey harvested from the solar farm adjacent to the cidery. Tropical fruit notes from the Golden Russet and herbal spice from the Kingston Black, earthy & sweetness from the honey. 8% abv.

About the Community Solar Garden
The Walz Family farmed this land for decades but when the patriarch farmers of the family passed away the younger generation looked for ways to keep the land in the family. They quickly discovered that leasing the land to a solar garden was more profitable than leasing to another farmer. Additionally, the environmental benefits for the land and surrounding community was a very attractive proposition.
Environmental benefits include:
– Resting the land from farming for 25 years helps build nutrients in the soil
– Clean energy being produced
– The deep root systems of wildflowers and grasses prevent erosion
– Native plantings create food for pollinators

Guarantee Savings With Community Solar

New Value of Solar tariff ensures financial benefits for participants

 

CFO’s and Energy Managers – it’s time to celebrate!  You can now confidently recommend Community Solar today understanding exactly how much your organization will save each year, with the comfort of knowing that number will always be positive from year 1 to year 25.

Facilities Managers can also celebrate, there’s no need for panels on your roof.  Community Solar allows ratepayers to participate in nearby solar projects, with benefits automatically credited to their monthly utility statements. IPS Solar identifies land, develops projects, and contracts with energy users (subscribers) to offer a simple, straightforward approach to energy savings.

 

From Risk To Stability 

Previously, solar developers presented assumptions regarding long-term utility costs.  Many prospective subscribers were concerned with what was perceived to be unknown price risk and may have decided that the program didn’t offer the assurances needed to make an informed decision.  Under Xcel’s new program iteration called Value of Solar, Community Solar subscribers can accurately forecast both the costs and benefits of their commitments upfront. 

Over the last three years Community Solar in Minnesota has become a more stable and mature market, allowing the utility, ratepayers and solar developers to benefit from more predictable energy values.   Xcel’s new Value of Solar tariff sets a known price for solar compensation, contracted for 25 years. 

 

Real Savings

Organizations can expect to save thousands up to millions of dollars during the term of an agreement.  The chart below illustrates indicative benefits for subscribers with varying energy consumption:

Lease Your Roof or Property!

IPS continues to specialize in helping organizations monetize under-utilized real estate like roofs, parking lots, or unproductive land.  Lease your roof so others in the community can benefit from solar energy. We offer very competitive rates and a quick turn around on assessing feasibility at your sites.  Many commercial real estate sectors are getting in on the action; from industrial warehouses to brownfields to multi-family units. Let us help assess your solar revenue potential.

 

 

About IPS Solar:

IPS Solar, a leading provider of solar power solutions in Minnesota and the Midwest, is focused on the development, installation and management of solar power systems for commercial, community solar and residential customers. IPS Solar is one of the fastest growing solar systems providers in the United States, delivering rooftop commercial projects to multi-megawatt community solar gardens.

Our company’s mission is to lead the transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable power while saving money for our customers. For over 25 years, IPS Solar has been serving clients with integrity and excellence.

IPS’ Eric Pasi Honored as Midwest Energy’s 40 Under 40

Midwest Energy News has announced their 2018 40 Under 40, which includes IPS Solar’s Eric Pasi, Chief Development Officer.  We’re grateful for his leadership over the past 11 years!


Eric Pasi joined IPS Solar in 2007, a company with 15 years of renewable energy experience at that time. Since then he’s helped to accelerate significant solar power adoption in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Pasi has developed unique financing programs, won competitive opportunities, and jumpstarted the company’s successful Community Solar Gardens program. To date, Pasi has contributed to nearly 100MW of distributed Midwest solar projects. Pasi graduated from the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota in 2006 where he focused on entrepreneurial management and marketing. Currently, he is an advisor to the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Commercial Solar Power Hour at Surly Brewing

IPS Solar is hosting another Commercial Solar Power Hour at Surly Brewery this September! This time around the focus will be on solar and commercial real estate. 

Join us on Tuesday, September 18th from 4pm – 7pm for some tasty appetizers and great beer in Surly’s Scheid Hall Room. Network with fellow professionals and learn about how solar power is shaking up the commercial real estate industry. Our Chief Development Officer, Eric Pasi, will be talking with Max Currie, Principal and Construction Manager at Suntide Commercial Realty, about why Suntide chose to adopt solar and what other commercial real estate groups should consider when evaluating renewables. 

Learn More about Commercial Solar

Tickets are just $15 and include free access to Surly’s large collection of tap beer and food options. Tickets are limited so head over to our event page to secure your spot now! 

Get Your Ticket

IPS Solar stance on President’s Solar Tariff

Solar power is one of the biggest success stories in the american economy.  At 260,000 workers strong it’s a rising force in US energy.  The Midwest has seen explosive growth in recent years.  Minnesota has increased solar production by a whopping 4,000% since 2012 to over 700 megawatts, providing enough energy to power 90,000 homes.

On Monday January 22nd the Trump administration announced a 30% tax on imported solar panels and cells.  Two failed US manufacturers brought a case to the US International Trade Commission in May of last year, seeking a tariff of more than 100%.  The companies, Suniva and SolarWorld, are actually owned by international conglomerates based out of China and Germany respectively.  The fact that “pro-business” Trump is effectively bailing out bankrupt foreign-owned companies, hurting more US workers than helping, and increasing prices for consumers, is the definition of irony.

 

Are we sure this puts America first?

Many rural communities have seen major re-investment in recent years. A billion dollars of construction is happening in many ex-urban Minnesota counties, the very counties that voted heavily in favor for Trump. Wright, Goodhue, Chisago, and Carver counties, where Trump won by huge margins, all stand to gain millions in increased tax revenue and economic impact.  Land owners, many of whom identify as conservative, typically receive lease rates that are 2 to 3 times what they’d see from agricultural use. Solar will save the Red Wing School District (and local tax payers) 7 million dollars over 25 years – there are dozens of similar impacts happening across the state.

The case has already had huge consequences. 2017 and 2018 were set for record-breaking industry growth, but since the announcement last spring that Trump was expected to impose tariffs, development and construction of solar projects slowed to a crawl. Large companies purchased nearly all tariff-free panels available which squeezed smaller installation companies and distributors struggling to complete jobs. Investors were hesitant to finance what was seen as an unknown tax risk. The country installed just 12 gigawatts of solar in 2017 (estimated) compared to 15 gigawatts in 2016.


Trade is complex and solar is no exception. Most panels are manufactured abroad, and the cost of those panels has plummeted more than 90% since 2007. Whether prices are truly being manipulated or a result of more efficient processes, much like the cost of computing power over the same period, is difficult to discern. US consumers rely on affordable imports for everything from cell phones to TV’s to cars – and protectionism hasn’t overwhelmed any of those industries.

It’s still unclear whether or not NAFTA countries are affected by the ruling. Many solar projects utilize panels made in Canada and Mexico, including a company with Minnesota ties – Heliene. Heliene was part of the now retired Made-in-Minnesota program, and has facilities in Mountain Iron.  Based on the tariff, they are seeking to expand those operations which could bring much needed dollars into that area of the state.

Is this the end of Solar?

Impacts overall will most likely be muted. With no poison pill for the industry, and a reasonable sunset to the tax, a 30% hit is a speed bump and not a car wreck. Markets adjusted to the impending tariffs with significant panel price increases (~25%) in 2017 due to lack of inventory. As the issue cools off it’s expected that panel prices may increase marginally. With this tariff issue and Trump’s tax policy out of the way, certainty will restart the flow of project development and construction. Short-term contraction for a long-term trend that looks bright.

Unfortunately clean energy and climate change are inexorably linked, and thanks to a certain former vice president politics have entered that equation. Trump’s commitment to coal miners, via this tax, is coming at the cost of thousands of workers from both sides of the political aisle. Traditionally, conservatives have taken more of a free-market approach with limited government intervention – this instance seems counterintuitive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said solar would be the fastest-growing occupation in America over the next 10 years. In order to realize that statistic the country needs to set aside ideology and realize that our future stands with solar, tariffs supporting 2,000 jobs are simply not the answer.

Its unfortunate that climate change is looked at as a burden instead of a great opportunity for America to lead the world in clean technology.

 

IL Communities Preparing For FEJA

Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) will be the premier legislation to drive renewable energy and economic development in the state. Many communities, townships, school districts, colleges, and building owners are gearing up for this legislation. Along with energy efficiency improvements, this legislation calls for 1.3 GW of wind and 3 GW of solar by 2030. About 1500 MW of solar needs to be built by 2021 and of this approximately 670 MW is distributed generation.

The Illinois Power Authority has issued a draft Renewable Energy Procurement Plan and the Illinois Commerce Commission is expected to approve it by next month.

 

How Do These Programs Work?

The intent of this article is to summarize the new “Adjustable Block Program” and “Solar for All” programs. For large scale (2+ MW wind and solar projects), procurement process has been set and will go through the normal bidding process and, therefore, will not be discussed here. In a market where energy prices are very cheap, the primary mechanism to incentivize these projects is via Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s). One REC is equivalent to 1 MWh. These credits will be set according to the “Adjustable Block Program” for community solar and behind the meter projects. Depending on the size of the project and the utility company whose territory the project lies in, the Illinois Power Authority will grant REC values to incentivize these projects. There are separate blocks for community solar and those for distributed generation, which consists of commercial and industrial and residential. On the community solar side, based on IPA’s draft procurement plan, these REC values may range from just above $100/REC to just under $50/REC. Similarly on the DG side, these REC values may range from close to $80/REC to $30/REC, depending on size and the block. IPA has issued the first three blocks and the REC values in these blocks will reduce over time. Hence it is important to get in early. These REC values will be paid at an accelerated level of 100% up front for residential solar and within four years for commercial and community solar projects. All these incentives along with the federal investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation are expected to defray the up upfront cost of doing solar. For community solar blocks, there are REC adders depending on the percentage of residents subscribing to the solar array. For example, a community solar project whose subscription consists of 75% or residential clients will earn higher REC values than those that subscribe to none or very little.


On the net meter side, community solar will be net metered at whole sale electricity rates while commercial and residential will be compensated at retail electricity rates. Therefore, depending on the situation, commercial and industrial clients will benefit from “behind the meter” applications since they will earn retail rates for excess electricity sold back to the grid. Therefore, residents that cannot or do not want to put solar on their dwellings, they will benefit from subscribing to a community solar garden.


The “Solar for All Program” is designed to give access to low income communities that have higher barriers of access to solar. The program has four main categories: low income distributed generation, low income community solar, non profits and public entities, and low income community solar pilot. The REC’s in the “Solar for All Program” are supposed to mirror those in the “Adjustable Block Program” except that they will have higher values for the REC’s. In addition, with the exception of the “low income community solar pilot” program, the pay-offs for the REC’s will be upfront rather than over four years, as in the “Adjustable Block Program”. These upfront pay-offs are to further incentivize low income communities to invest in solar by defraying these upfront costs. Overall, the program will boost solar for all communities, while enabling job creation and economic development. Companies that are early movers can reap the rewards of this opportunity while helping local communities in Illinois.

Amit Shukla
amit@ips-solar.com