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Minnesota Gets Group Solar Discount Offering

Via the wonderful crew over at Clean Energy Resource Teams:

Minnesotans can now participate in a group purchasing program to reduce the cost and uncertainties of going solar. The goal of the program is to reduce the implementation barriers often presented to home and business owners looking into renewable energy systems.

The Make Mine Solar program provides free workshops to increase consumer education, site assessments, installation, and equipment at a reduced cost, and recommends approved installers. On top of this, they provide continued advice and guidance throughout the process.

We chatted with Laura Cina, Managing Director of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) who runs Make Mine Solar, to learn more.

Joel Haskard: You had a similar program in the Metro area last year. How did that work?

Laura Cina: The program went great, we did 15 solar hot water installations, 1 solar air heat installations and had 3 solar PV systems come out if it as well! The solar air heat installations were very low to due to the technology being added very close near the end of the program.

Joel: What is the geographical area for this project?

Laura: We are offering Workshops and Site Assessments in the Southeast Region of the state, as defined by the CERTs map. Although if you live outside that 15 county area, you can contact one of our installers, listed on our website and ask for the special pricing.

Joel: How can people participate in the SE Make Mine Solar bulk-purchase campaign?

Laura: There are two ways to participate:

  1. Start the process to get your own solar system (See below)
  2. Tell everyone else about it!

Some people can’t purchase solar, so do the next best thing – help other people get a great deal on solar! Plus the more people we get to sign up for the program the lower everyone’s prices will be! Tell your friends, tell your neighbors!

Joel: What do you suggest people do who may be interested in getting a solar thermal hot water system?

Laura: The first step is to get a Virtual Site Assessment for $20. Our certified site assessors will use your answers given there and a satellite photo of your house to make an educated judgement on your sites viability for solar and an educated guess on payback based on the number of people in your home, your current energy source (propane, electricity etc), your current energy use and your possible rebates from utilities. If your site looks promising the next step is an on-site assessment and then choose an installer to help you move forward in the process!

Second, everyone is welcome to attend a workshop as well, we are hosting them in Rochester, Austin, Owatonna, Red Wing and Kiester. These are a great opportunity to bring your Virtual Site Assessment and start asking questions! We will have solar experts on hand to answer questions and the installers there for people to meet.

Rochester: Tuesday, July 24th 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Cascade Meadows Wetlands & Environmental Learning Center (PV, Hot Water systems on site!)
2900 19th Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901

Austin: Wednesday, July 25th 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Hormel Nature Center, Ruby Rupner Building
1304 21st St NE, Austin, MN 55912

Owatonna: Wednesday, August 1 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Owatonna Utilities, Commision Room
208 N Walnut Ave, Owatonna, MN 55060

Kiester: Thursday, August 2nd 6:00 to 8:00pm
Kiester High School
501 W Center St, Kiester, MN, 56051

Red Wing: Tuesday, August 14th 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Rich Huelskamp’s Home (PV, Wind, Hot Water and Air Heat systems on site!)
28609 Walnut Run Way, Red Wing, MN 55066

Joel: Any last thoughts?

Laura: People that are currently using electricity or propane to heat their water or use a lot of hot water, like a restaurant, laundry or dairy farm are excellent candidates for a fast payback and stable energy costs for the next 25 years.

To learn more about the program, please visit their website at You can also see Frequently Asked Questions or a press release about the program and read recent stories in the Austin Daily Herald and the Rochester Post-Bulletin to see local coverage.


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