Solar projects across Minnesota are increasing. According to the Minnesota Commerce Department there were 94 solar gardens up and running at the end of 2017. They produced 286 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power approximately 285,000 homes. That’s almost enough energy to power every home in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Like large solar installations, wind farms support local economies and provide income for landowners who lease their land. “The wind turbines have been our saving grace,” says Andrew Hamilton, a farmer in Mower County. “There are upticks and downturns in business and with new challenges everyday you have to adapt and have to correct with the market and be flexible. Wind turbines are a great example of that to try and keep as many dollars coming into the farm as you can.”
The Minnesota Department of Revenue reported that Minnesota counties will receive about $12.7 million in wind energy production taxes in 2018, and that’s in addition to lease payments to land owners. In 2017 the state Commerce Department stated that Minnesota ranked seventh in the nation for wind as a share of total in-state electricity generation.