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This week we welcome to TTT a new cohost and associate producer: Siobhan Kierans, a solid broadcast producer and co-host of her own show, Malarkey, on KFAI. We're proud and happy to have such a fine talent join the crew.
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How long have many advocates in this nation, and, indeed, Minnesota to a large extent, touted the absolute necessity for switching from fossil fuels-powered energy to renewables – a broad term that may be too broadly defined for some, especially if means burning anything (as in garbage and other so-called “biofuels”)?
Not so much in dispute are two renewable resources: the sun and the wind. The only notions in dispute may well be the size of the generating arrays. That debate continues around such items as wind farms and large solar arrays as proposed by such powerhouse suppliers as Xcel Energy.
It’s become clear to many advocates that smaller, community-based arrays – what are being called community solar gardens – that end users may well find that energy can be both less expensive and an investment. Oh, yes, Xcel’s large solar arrays are also considered gardens, but they look like small farms rather than the neighborhood-sized rooftop panels owned by those who subscribe to them – the investment part – then collect reimbursements for the electricity generated at a per-watt rate.
The current conflicts center around the number of solar arrays that Xcel should be allowed to construct and the rates they pay to the smaller, independent community solar garden operations. The state’s regulator, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), has so far signaled a desire to limit Xcel’s ability to build huge solar arrays while also suggesting that the rate Xcel has offered to pay back to solar garden subscribers (what that means we’ll talk about Monday morning) for the power they add to the larger grid is simply too low
This area’s first community solar garden has just announced a sold-out subscription base and the array will operate in South Minneapolis.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and SIOBHAN KIERANS talk with the entrepreneur developer of this garden along with a resource and ethical watchdog for the solar industry to enlighten us all about the meaning of these developments and what it means for energy policy and futures in Minnesota.
KEN BRADLEY – President/CEO, Minnesota Community Solar
LYNN HINKLE - Director of Policy Development, Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association
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