Add Renewables and Solar

According to the Energy Information Administration, the total amount of energy used in the US hit an all time high in 2018, reaching 101.2 quadrillion BTU. That same year, 80% of US energy came from fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas, and oil. Although energy production from coal has declined in recent years, energy from natural gas remains a significant component of US energy production. A reliance on fossil fuels for energy production has contributed significantly to climate change, and according to the EPA, still accounts for more than 84% of US greenhouse gas emissions. 

Renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost competitive to even the cheapest fossil fuels. Utility scale wind and solar installations are even more cost effective than running existing coal plants and are beginning to outcompete natural gas plants as well. Switching our energy sources to renewable energy and rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and positively impact the climate. However, renewable energy sources—though the percentage has been steadily climbing over the years—still account for very little of the nation’s total energy consumption, at about 11% in 2019.

Minnesota is one of our nation’s leaders in renewable energy, with renewable energy resources accounting for a quarter of Minnesota’s in-state electricity generation in 2019. Nonetheless, you can be a part of increasing Minnesota’s effort to transition to renewable energy sources with the following actions:

  • If you are considering installing solar energy at your home or business, but want to understand the costs, potential for energy generation, and return on investment, you can use the Duluth Shines! Solar Potential map to assess your property.
  • Choose Renewable Energy Sources: Ask your energy service provider to source their electricity from renewable sources, like wind or solar. Some companies may have a renewable resource mix that you can buy directly.
  • Explore Solar Options: If you own a home or business you can choose to install solar panels to reduce or completely eliminate the amount of electricity you get from your local utility who may rely on non-renewable energy sources.
  • There are several companies in the Duluth area that offer solar panel installation for homeowners or business owners on their roofs or as ground mounted systems, such as Wolf Track Energy.
  • You can find more solar companies and learn about financial incentives and benefits of installing solar in Minnesota here.
  • If you are not sure that you can afford installing solar at your home, visit Minnesota Power’s page about the Low Income Solar Pilot Program. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance offers a Solar Assistance program that provides solar arrays for low-income families and communities. 
  • You may also be able to save on installing solar at your home by participating in a group buy program in which a group of customers can install solar panels at their own residencies for the rate of bulk prices. A local example is Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light’s Group Solar Buy. 
  • Check out the City of Duluth’s website to learn about the city’s efforts to remove barriers for those interested in choosing solar, such as making an online checklist for securing a permit for a solar system in Duluth.
  • If you do not want to install solar at your home or business, or you rent, you can opt for community solar, such as by participating in Minnesota Power’s Community Solar Garden, located at Rice Lake Rd. & W Arrowhead Rd. 

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