Solar energy backers criticize Xcel solar garden plan

Minnesota solar developers say they're disappointed in Xcel Energy's plans for community solar gardens, which allow people to buy into a part of a solar energy project and get credit on their utility bills instead of installing solar panels on their homes.

Xcel says it will put up to 20 megawatts of community generated solar power on its system in the next two years to help the utility meet a new solar energy standard.

Solar developers say interest has been high, but they're concerned Xcel isn't offering a fair price for the energy.

"Is it potentially possible to do what they say?" asks Ken Bradley, CEO of MN Community Solar, which is building its first project on the roof of a building on Lake Street in Minneapolis. "Well maybe it is, but you're going to bring in Chinese panels, you're not going to pay a living wage, it's not going to be using Minnesota manufactured products, it's going to be really cutting it right down to the bone."

State regulators will weigh in on Xcel's plans before any of the projects are developed.

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