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Minnesota solar power gets new boost from lawmakers

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota could soon take another step ahead in the transition to renewable energy.

Minnesota utilities already are replacing coal-fired power plants with windmills, prompted by the state’s landmark 2007 Next Generation Energy Act. Partly as a result, the state has a healthy wind power industry.

To continue the renewable energy effort, state legislators have introduced bills in the House and Senate that would increase the use of solar systems in homes and businesses.

“There are lots of folks, businesses in Minnesota that are eager to get going on this but they need a little boost right now,” said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. “And the faster we make the solar industry start growing in Minnesota, the faster the prices fall.”

Marty’s bill and a companion bill in the House would require utilities to produce gradually-increasing amounts of solar power. The House bill still has the original goal of four-percent solar by 2025. In the Senate, it’s been whittled down to one-percent.

Utility company officials are leery of the requirements, and contend they could be costly and unfair to ratepayers. Here’s a comparison of the House and Senate bills
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