Solar Homes

Join Now: The process starts with a free site assessment. To get started, please contact CEF member and Residential Solar  coordinator Bruce Konewko right away at, (612) 568-2334. Please make sure to download and send Bruce your last 12 months of energy usage history, which will help determine the system size you qualify for: Read our Xcel kWh Usage Report Instructions to get more info on how to do this.

This program uses the Solar Rewards Incentive and the Minnesota Made Solar Incentive program. Both provide annual incentive payments for the energy generated by your solar panels, making the payback period shorter (usually 8-10 years for 25-year warrantied panels). You also get to use the Federal Investment Tax Credit, which covers 30% of the system’s cost. The differences between the two incentives are:

  • Solar Rewards has a lower incentive per kWh, while Made in Minnesota requires the use of locally-made panels. Because Made in MN projects tend to have a higher upfront cost, they end up having about the same payback as Solar Rewards.
  • Solar Rewards is awarded first-come-first serve, and nearly all applicants are awarded. Made in Minnesota is selected using a lottery of projects that apply between January 1 and February 28 of each year. Currently about 1/3 of residential Made in Minnesota applicants get selected (and 1/6 of commercial projects).
  • Solar Rewards projects can be up to 20kW, while Made in Minnesota projects can be up to 40kW. Both sizes are much larger than most residential solar (usually 3-8kW), but this does limit the size of commercial solar projects that can apply.

By participating in our solar programs,  you will:

  • Get clean, solar energy generated on your home
  • Pay no money down and pay less each month than you would from your current energy supplier
  • Join neighbors to grow a cooperative pioneering community-based energy solutions that confront climate change, create local jobs, and build community wealth

How It Works: We’ll walk you through the process of determining if your home is a viable solar site, and helping you apply for the appropriate incentive (Xcel Solar Rewards or Made in Minnesota). CEF will support you in identifying loan options that match your needs that allow you to install solar for almost no money down (usually a down-payment around $300) and with monthly/annual payments that are less than your energy savings and the incentives you receive. In effect, you get a 2-10kW solar array (based on roof size, and designed to cover as much, but no more than 120%, of your electrical consumption as possible) installed on your home with little upfront cost and for financial savings from the first year.

To participate, you will need to get a solar site assessment, review the design for your home, and sign a letter of intent to proceed with solar if awarded the Made in Minnesota incentive, all by February 29th. When you sign the letter of intent, you will buy a $25 Cooperative Energy Futures membership share to join the cooperative and pay a $300 refundable deposit:

  • If your project is not awarded a MN Made Incentive, you’ll get the deposit back.
  • If you do get an incentive awarded and decide not to move forward, you’ll forfeit the deposit.
  • If you get an incentive award and move forward with a solar install, the deposit will be applied to your solar project.

This Is for You If:

  1. You have an south-facing unobstructed roof. During our remote and onsite assessments, we can determine if your site is suitable.
  2. You live in Minnesota, and get your electricity from Xcel Energy
  3. You own your home. If you are a renter, community solar is a better fit for you.
  4. While the monthly payments will be less than the savings on your energy bills, most loan options will require a credit check.

Timeline & Steps: Here’s the process:

  1. Call Us: Contact Bruce at, or (612) 568-2334 right away to answer any basic questions  and schedule a free site assessment of your home.
  2. Email Bruce a record of your last 12 months of energy utility bills downloaded from your “My Account” from Xcel Energy. Read our Xcel kWh Usage Report Instructions to get more info on how to do this.
  3. Remote Review (within 48 hours of receiving your energy bill data): We will verify that your site has potential before confirming the site visit.
  4. Site Assessment (deadline for the Made in Minnesota program is 2/15/2017, please call sooner as we will not be able to support everyone at the last minute): We will visit your home to conduct an analysis of shading, roof area and obstructions, your electrical system, collect a copy of your energy bill, and schedule a follow-up visit.
  5. Design (within 5 business days of your assessment): If your site is eligible, we will create a design for your solar array and develop a proposal including the letter of intent to participate in solar leasing.
  6. Follow-Up Visit (deadline for Made in Minnesota is 2/26/2017): We will meet with you at your home to review the site design, answer any questions, sign a letter of intent, and pay a $300 refundable deposit, which will allow filing of a MN Made Incentive application.
  7. Incentive application: We will submit the application for you.
  8. Response from incentive provider: Xcel Energy (if Solar Rewards) or the state of Minnesota (if Made in Minnesota) will send notification if the project is approved for an incentive.
  9. Xcel Engineering review: The system will be reviewed and approved by Xcel.
  10. Signing Formal Agreements: This is the final confirmation that you are ready to go forward.
  11. Installation: Will be scheduled based on order accepted, your schedule, and work schedule

Questions?: Contact us at, (612) 568-2334 with more detailed questions.

History: In 2012 and 2013, Cooperative Energy Futures helped launch the Grow Solar bulk buying program with Applied Energy Innovations. In early 2014, we transitioned this program into a solar loan and leasing program that allows residents to go solar for no money down. The 2014-2016 we have enabled over 3 dozen Minnesota families to go solar, and we look forward to doing even more in 2017.

IPSlogo_transp_bkgrdInnovative Power Systems is one of Minnesota’s oldest and largest solar installation contractors, named a top 100 Solar Contractor nationwide by in 2013. Since 1991, IPS has installed hundreds of solar systems across Minnesota and serves as the system developer and installer for this program.

3 responses to “Solar Homes”

  1. Karen Grabau and Leo Sanders says :

    Is this page out of date? We are interested, having read the Longfellow Messenger article. This site appears to have dated information and some links are broken. We’ll call you, too.

    • timothydenherderthomas says :

      Thanks for the reminder, just updated 10/7. There are several pending changes to our residential solar program that will be finalized in the next week or two, but we are already conducting free site assessments now.

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