Minnesota renewable energy and energy efficiency

Since 2007, Minnesota has started implementing policies to reduce electricity generation from fossil-fueled power plants and encourage renewable energy development. With help from the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Next Generation Energy Act, Minnesota has made great progress in renewable energy usage and energy efficiency improvement. In 2018, the state reported that one-fourth of its electricity generation came from renewable energy resources, with wind energy being the largest renewable generation source1. The state also offers many programs, residential and commercial incentives to support the development of renewable energy through different aspects. Both public and investor-owned utilities provide rebate programs, grant programs, and other financial incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Minnesota

The Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) has a long history in Minnesota, beginning in the 1980s. CIP leads the development of energy efficiency in the state and motivate utilities to improve energy efficiency. Minnesota enacted its net metering law in 1983, requiring all utilities to offer net metering to customers. In 2001, the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Minnesota Renewable Energy Objective (REO)2. This voluntary regulation required regulated utilities to make an effort to provide 10% of Minnesota's retail electricity sales from eligible renewable energy sources by 2015 and to obtain 0.5% of this renewable energy from biomass technology. Xcel Energy, the state's largest electric utility, needed to generate 10% of its electricity from renewable energy. The Minnesota B3 Benchmarking for buildings, an online tool to help new buildings achieve sustainable goals and energy efficiency, was also created in 2001.

In 2007, Minnesota changed the REO to a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and imposed specific renewable energy goals for utilities and other regulated organizations. The details regarding the RPS will be presented in the next section.

In the same year, the Next Generation Energy Act was passed. This act requires Minnesota to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from the 2005 level by 2050. The act also imposed a 1.5% annual retail sales reduction for all regulated electric and gas utilities starting in 2010; this policy is referred to as an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS).

The Minnesota Residential and Commercial Building Energy Codes came into effect in 2015, which further ensures energy efficiency and sustainability goals. The code set minimum standards for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, and repair of non-residential buildings governing matters including design and construction standards regarding heat loss control, illumination, and climate control pursuant to Minnesota Statutes3.

Minnesota's Renewable Portfolio Standard

In 2007, Minnesota passed its first mandatory renewable portfolio standard for all public utilities (i.e., investor-owned utilities), generation and transmission electric cooperatives, municipal power agencies, and power districts in the state. They are required to have at least 25% of retail electricity sales be generated or procured using eligible renewable sources by 2025. For Minnesota's largest utility, Xcel Energy, the standard will be 30%.

The standard was updated by a Solar Energy Standard (SES) in 2013.Public utilities need to provide at least 1.5% of their total Minnesota retail electricity sales from solar energy by the end of 2020. This law also set a statewide goal of 10% of retail electric sales from solar by 2030.

Important renewable energy organizations in Minnesota

Several organizations lead and help enhance renewable energy development in Minnesota. Minnesota Energy Codes Compliance Collaborative, formed in 2014, is comprised of several stakeholders. The general mission of the organization is to help facilitate compliance with the building energy code in Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Commerce, division of energy resource, is a sub-department under the Department of Commerce, which provides information and resources for those seeking to purchase or install clean energy systems, including solar, wind, bioenergy, fuel cells, and heat pumps. The division also assists the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on objective analysis and technical projects. It is also the department that oversees CIP to ensure the accomplishment of the goals.

Xcel Energy is an electricity provider for eight Western and Midwestern States. It is one of the industry leaders in providing renewable energy which help reduce carbon and other emissions.

MnSEIA is an organization devoted to promoting solar energy industries to help Minnesota achieve its clean energy transition goals. The organization works through state legislative lobbying efforts and regulatory implementation regarding solar energy4.

Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) is a non-profit organization which helps the state to improve energy efficiency through policies, research, programs, and education. The staff helps a wide range of customers to improve their energy efficiency through expert research and technical help.

How to go solar in Minnesota

You can install solar panels on your property and benefit directly from solar energy in Minnesota. The best way to go solar is to compare multiple quotes - you can join the EnergySage Marketplace for free to begin comparing your options from installation companies near you. Want to start with a little more research? Check out average prices for solar in Minnesota, or read through reviews of the best local solar installers in Minnesota.


  1. EIA “Minnesota - State Energy Profile Analysis.” Accessed May 22, 2019.
  2. “Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard: Utility Compliance 1,” n.d., 14.
  3. The Building Codes Assistance Project. “State Code Status: Minnesota.” Accessed May 22, 2019.
  4. MnSEIA. “Mission & History.” Accessed May 22, 2019.

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