Minnesota receives $2 million federal grant to boost solar energy

Solar panels stretch across Eichten's solar farm.
About 15,000 solar panels line four acres of Ed Eichten's farm in Center City, Minn. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Minnesota will have to dramatically increase its 2015 solar capacity — by a factor of 171 — to reach a goal it set in 2013 to generate 10 percent of electricity from solar by 2030.

Officials say integrating solar onto the existing grid will take some planning. The U.S. Department of Energy has stepped in with $2 million to help ease the transition to more solar power.

Minnesota requires large utilities to produce 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2020, and Xcel Energy says it expects at least 8 percent of its portfolio will come from solar by 2030.

Solar energy production is growing fast in Minnesota. Xcel Energy opened the largest single solar facility in the Midwest this week near North Branch.

Minnesota was the only Midwestern state to receive the Department of Energy grant, which provides technical and analytical assistance to states in meeting their renewable energy goals, according to a news release Thursday from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

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