Preserving the Environment

How People Power is Helping the Midwest Join the Solar Boom

November 20, 2014
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How People Power is Helping the Midwest Join the Solar Boom
Minnesota residents can purchase solar panels from a massive community solar garden created by nonprofit co-op Connexus Energy. Connexus Energy via Facebook
Communities in America's heartland are finding a way to make the switch to clean energy.

When you think about the country’s solar revolution, the Midwest probably doesn’t come to mind.

In fact, as we previously reported, if you look at the top 10 solar states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina — they are spoiled with year-round sun or have lawmakers that embrace and promote renewable energy.

But in places where solar has been dismissed as expensive or impractical due to weather, many residents have been clamoring to tap into the clean power of the sun, and more and more forward-thinking communities are happy to oblige.

In Midwestern states, such as Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan and others, residents are tapping the sun’s rays without installing a single panel on their roof, Midwest Energy News reports.

MORE: Going Solar Is Cheaper Than Ever. Here’s What You Need to Know About Getting Your Power From the Sun

According to the publication, Connexus Energy (a nonprofit co-op consisting of 128,000 members) allows residents of the northern Twin Cities suburbs in Minnesota to purchase single or multiple panels (at $950 each) from a massive, football-field sized community solar garden located at the Connexus headquarters in Ramsey. A Connexus customer then receives a credit on their power bill based on how much power their panels produce. Patrons usually sign up for a 20 to 25 year long contract with the payoff kicking in after 14 to 16 years.

“We didn’t do this to make money, we did this to fulfill a need of our members,” Don Haller, vice president of marketing and member services for Connexus, tells Midwest Energy News. “We found there is a small number of our members are who are definitely interested in community solar and wanted us to provide it.”

Solar co-ops have become an increasingly attractive and popular method for people who want to make the switch to clean energy, but don’t live in the right location for a rooftop installation or cannot afford its large sticker price. If As this map illustrates, solar communities have popped up in 34 states, located on farms, schools, military bases and more.

So what happens when states make it difficult for communities to go solar? Communities find solar instead.

DON’T MISS: How This Coal Capital is Going Solar
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