Minnesota Public radio ran a story Monday on Community Solar in Minnesota. One of the featured sources was Able Energy President Michael Harvey.

The article does a nice job of outlining how Minnesota solar customers can benefit, both financially and environmentally, from buying into a solar panel array that is part of Xcel Energy's Community Solar program.

You can read the full MPR article, here.

Solar panels for community solar

A solar garden in Wright-Hennepin. Photo by Star Tribune.

solar panels in wisconsin


The largest community solar garden in Wisconsin will have 2816 panels. Each are 310-watts and will be installed by Able Energy Co., of River Falls, Wis.

Able Energy President, Michael Harvey, along with a handful of executives, broke ground on an 858-kilowatt community solar garden at Eau Claire Electric Cooperative in Fall Creek, Wis., yesterday. It is the first step in the construction process that will turn a well-manicured field tucked behind the co-op’s headquarters into a massive solar panel array.

The project, called MemberSolar, will be the largest community solar array in the state of Wisconsin when completed. 

“We expect this project to provide clean energy to Eau Claire residents for more than 30 years,” Harvey said. “It is a great partnership between the electric co-op and its members.”

The array itself will be an impressive construction project. The panels will sit atop Schletter racking and run the length of the 600-foot feet. There will be nine rows in total oriented toward the south. The project will be enclosed in a ten-foot industrial fence.

The energy benefit from the solar panels will be no less impressive.

“Each panel will provide enough energy to keep an average light bulb on for 6,700 hours,” Harvey said.

The solar energy generated from the MemberSolar array could offset the entire energy bill of more than 85 homes. The project is expected to go online by October 1.

Able Energy was pleased to be chosen for this project, Harvey said, “We’re a local company and this project will serve local residents.”

The MemberSolar project was created by the Eau Claire Electric Cooperative.

“We responded to our members’ wishes and needs and we are anxious to bring this to a reality,” said Lynn Thompson, CEO at ECEC.

For more information on MemberSolar, -------> click here. 

For more information on other solar projects, -------> click here. 

by Ben Ganje
A few weeks ago, Elon Musk unveiled his new home battery system and daily cycle controller called the Tesla Power Wall. It is an exciting development in the solar world. Although the battery technology he unveiled has been around for a while (and is a bit cheaper without his brand on it), when the world’s most ambitious entrepenuer stands up and puts electric utilities on notice, people listen.  
We listened. 
Right now, solar systems throughout the country benefit most — financially, speaking — from being grid-tied. By keeping connected to the electric utility consumers benefit from net metering. Net metering means that your utility will pay you for that excess solar energy. As it spills back onto the grid, the utility will pay or credit you at retail rate. It is a very beneficial for both the customer and the utility. 
However, times change. As they do, some net metering laws may get rolled back or altered by state law. If they do, having a solar system that is equipped to add a battery system is a great idea. That’s why, starting now, we will equip our systems with Solar Edge inverters and optimizers. 
This is a big move for us and our customers. Solar Edge will allow for more versatile string sizing, meaning we can fit more panels on your roof. The optimizers also reduce the voltage during a power outage, which meets code for rapid shut-down in most cities. It also replaces the need for micro-inverters in nearly all occasions. The most pressing advantage for using micro-inverters is shading and a little extra production by inverting at the panel level. Solar Edge optimizers will do the same thing as a micro-inverter. 
We can do all of that with Solar Edge and still be ready to add Tesla’s Power Wall when the time is right. The video below is a great overview of how a solar system with DC optimizers works. Check it out.
If you are looking for more information, please click here

Able Energy Co was selected as the solar developer for the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative's MemberSolar program. A Community Solar program for the E.C.E.C. members, members can purchase a panel for $650 to offset some to all of their electricity on each member's electric bill for up to 20 years.

We are excited to partner with such a great cooperative and we look forward to moving this project forward in a timely and successful manner. 


Able Energy Co has been working on the Community Solar program in MN, within the Xcel Energy territory. With their program MyCommunitySolar™ we have established ourselves as one of the leaders in community solar development. For more information on the E.C.E.C. MemeberSolar program, visit to view the press release.

By: Michael Harvey
Date: 2/12/15

Xcel Energy has been inundated with applications for community solar systems, and what they didn't expect was that the majority of the arrays would be larger than 1 MW. In the first 2 months of the program Xcel Energy has seen over 430MW of applications. The legeslation has a cap of 1 MW and Xcel Energy has indicated that 96% of applications are 1MW and 58% exceed 10MW. Some of the developers are using the CS legeslation as a way to tie in “Utility Scale” solar PV systems under the new CS program. 


Recently a developer, from out of state, put in 200MW of applications for a single customer and Xcel Energy does not see this as good use of a program that was intended to let home owners, small businesses and non-profits to go solar that normally couldn’t due to challenges in installations, financial situations, and costs.