Solar power has been slow to enter the market in North Dakota, ranking last in the United States in installed solar power, according to a new report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), North Dakotas has a goal of installing 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy capacity by the end of 2018.
The procedure for deciding whether to approve the Harmony project was initiated in response to a 1970s state regulation that classified a particularly fertile area in the northern part of the state as an "exclusion zone" restricting certain uses under state law. The PSC subsequently decided on 27 March to remove the main agricultural land from the definition of an exclusion zone.
The approval sends a positive message to investors that North Dakota is receptive to this type of development, he said. He said solar companies will likely look for development opportunities in states with RPS, but said the regulatory philosophy in Minnesota and North Fargo is different, with Minnesota requiring cost and externalities to be reduced. Approval of the Harmony project marks a significant step in the right direction for the state's renewable energy development program, said Chris Dickson, vice president of business development at Minnesota Solar Energy.
While solar power occupies a larger area, wind turbines can manage the turbine's surroundings, he wrote in an email. The company is actively marketing the Harmony project and is working to secure a scheduled start of operations for the project in the first quarter of 2018, Chris Mock, vice president of business development at North Dakota Solar Energy, said in a separate email, saying the company has been actively marketing. As for the state government, energy development is largely bipartisan, Mock said, but there is usually an "all-or-nothing energy strategy." There is strong interest in solar power in North Fargo and other parts of the state, Whitten said - pointing to the potential for solar power plants to be built near metropolitan areas there.
The amendments must be reviewed by the Public Prosecutor's Office, and then the Commission must inform the State Legislative Council. Christmann said he hopes state attorneys general will complete their review and the rules are expected to take effect July 1.
Geronimo has already developed the Courtenay Wind Farm in North Dakota, which is owned and operated by the company Minneapolis - Xcel Energy Inc. Randy Fordice, a spokesman for Xcell Energy, said in an email that the company is not planning any solar projects in North Dakota. To some extent, concerns about the climate impact of solar power are valid, but not to the extent that they affect the environmental impact of large-scale solar power plants, "said Chris Burnse, chief executive of SolarCity Corp., a San Diego-based renewable energy company. He said that solar on a large scale is "out of competition" as technological advances have lowered solar costs, and "large-scale" solar is now competitive in most of the United States, including the Upper Midwest, he said by email.