Minnesota’s mandated community solar garden program has blossomed over the past few years, but questions have arisen about its complicated economics.
In recent months, Xcel Energy, which administers the program, has been stressing the costs of community solar gardens, particularly compared to larger-scale solar projects.
“We were really concerned that this would turn out to be an expensive program,” Xcel CEO Ben Fowke said in a recent interview. And it has become just that, with the costs flowing down to ratepayers, he said.
Clean-energy advocates and solar power developers say Xcel’s calculations don’t consider “avoided costs” derived from the solar gardens, including damage to the environment from fossil fuels. In other words, “How much is Xcel not spending?” said Gabriel Chan, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. [click for full article]