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Solar Gardens Testimony PUC

MNIPL at the PUC: Community Solar Testimony

by Julia Nerbonne

February 18, 2014

I represent MNIPL and the participants from over 200 congregations in Minnesota.  Thank you for hearing my testimony.

Something incredible is happening in the faith community today.    All over Minnesota people are realizing that in the face of the climate crisis we are morally called to act, and acting we are. This past weekend over 70 congregations in MN participated in a national "Preach-In" on global warming.  At my church in St. Paul, reverend LeeAnne Watkins made an alter call.  The whole church stood to commit to action on climate change. 

What does this mean? All over MN churches are taking the lead on becoming carbon neutral.  They are meeting in finance committees, they are analyzing options, they are balancing their budgets and making hard decisions about where to invest:  Because solar is so expensive, they have been forced to choose between tutoring or solar panels. These are the real conversations.

MNIPL is helping with this process.  We recently launched a solar team in which participants from 8 different denominations are coming together to look at how to create a large scale congregational solar commitment.  Lots of interest, but our team has been waiting to make sure the price on solar will make it work out financially to invest in community solar.

So I’m here today to tell you: We need a fair price on solar!

A fair price that considers the cost of environmental pollutants.

A fair price that will put us on the path to meet legislated solar goals and meet the public's clear desire for clean energy. 

A price that is fair to all rate payers and will lead to a viable Community Solar Garden industry that creates Minnesota jobs. 

As you know, we have only a small window of opportunity to jump-start solar energy toward achieving state-mandated goals. The 2014 construction season is nearly upon us and the 30% investment tax credit is due to expire in 2016.  

We can’t wait to get started!

Faith communities are poised to lead our transition to clean energy.   We've worked in coalition to pass this new solar law.  Now we need a fair price.

We support the recommendations made by Minnesota Solar Electric Industries Association and allows the community solar gardens industry to respond to clear public demand for solar energy.

Based on the interest expressed by our congregations, MN Interfaith Power and Light is exploring ways to help congregations conduct subscription drives.  We want to grow the power of the sun, and are counting on you to create the conditions that will make that happen.