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Incentive Program Helps Minn. Homeowners Go Green

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We have all heard about the benefits of solar energy, but the cost can make that transition difficult.

Solar panel installation on a home in Minnesota averages between $20,000 and $40,000.

There is a program to alleviate some of the cost through the Minnesota Department of Commerce to help customers see a quicker return on their investment.

The Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive program is in its third year and, so far, about 700 homeowners have found a way to make money off the sun.

Video games are Logan Duhn's way to unwind. But every moment that controller is in hand, it's driving up his electricity bill. When he adds in everything else needed to power a home, the cost quickly adds up.

"Every time I get that email notification and see it, I'm like, 'OK, I got to unplug something,'" Duhn said. "It's been $200, $300."

The cost is part of the reason why Duhn and his girlfriend, Marissa Mandeville, decided to move their electricity off-the-grid with the help of solar installation company Powerfully Green.

"This is our first house, so we're trying to make it green," Mandeville said.

The couple is taking advantage of the incentive program. They get a quicker return on investment for choosing a hometown solar manufacturer.

"Once we saw the numbers, we weren't as scared to throw the money down," Mandeville said.

Xcel Energy showed up on Thursday to convert their power meters to the rooftop panels, allowing energy to flow back to the power company.

Rebecca Lundberg, CEO of Powerfully Green, was there to explain how they will start making money. The couple can go online to see their energy use versus production.

"It helps them see their house using electricity and tends to effect behavior," Lundberg said. "People tend to reduce their bill when they can see what their bill is."

Duhn and Mandeville earn about 25 cents for every kilowatt hour generated through the program. For their solar-energy system, it could total around $3,000 a year. Some homes see an even higher return of around $4,000.

"It's an annual check for the first 10 years you own the system," Lundberg said.

The couple should see a return on their investment within seven years, but they are most excited for the monthly savings on their power bill.

"Seeing it come back zero or, you know, negative [laughs], that kind of thing is going to be exciting," Duhn said.

The application process is now open through the end of February. Recipients are chosen through a lottery, but applicants can reapply each year until 2023.

Click here for more information.

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