Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program is back for its sixth year, offering financial incentives for residential and select commercial customers embracing solar energy. Here’s a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about Solar*Rewards in 2024. 

What Is Solar*Rewards? 

Solar*Rewards is a 10-year incentive program for qualifying utility customers with Xcel Energy in Minnesota. When your solar array produces a certain amount of electricity, you earn something called a Renewable Energy Credit (REC). By enrolling in Solar*Rewards, you give your RECs to Xcel Energy in exchange for cash!  

Additionally, all Solar*Rewards customers receive net energy metering benefits. When your solar system produces more energy than what you need to consume, the extra energy is added to the Xcel grid, and you may receive a credit on your monthly billing statement. These credits can then be used to offset future electricity consumption when the solar panels may not be generating enough power, such as during the night, or periods of inclement weather.  

Wait, what are RECs? Do I Need Them?  

Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs, are like certificates that prove the electricity you generate with your solar panels is renewable. You earn one REC for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar energy your array produces, regardless of what you use first. For the average homeowner, RECs are of no benefit to you, because your home is already powered by clean energy! But RECs are valuable to utility and commercial companies that don’t have a physical solar array on their property but still want or need to use clean energy. Many utilities must buy a certain number of them each year to meet sustainability requirements set by the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in each state.  

Who is Qualified to Enroll in Solar*Rewards?  

Homeowners and certain commercial solar array owners may enroll in this program. Below are the specific criteria for enrollment:  

  • You must be a current customer of Xcel Energy, and the name on your application must match the name on your Xcel Energy account. 
  • You must own your home or the property where your solar array is installed. 
  • You must connect your system to the Xcel Energy grid and sign a 10-year Solar Rewards contract with Xcel Energy. 
  • Your solar system must be between 0.5- and 20-kW DC (there are other incentives for larger systems!) 
  • Your solar array cannot generate more than 120% of your historical electricity use (based on an analysis of your past usage). 
  • You must use certain, certified equipment – you can ensure your equipment will qualify when you work with a reputable and professional solar installation company like Cedar Creek Energy. 
  • You must meet minimum personal liability insurance policy requirements ($300,000 for 40 kW AC or less). 
  • Your PV system must be installed within one year of the date of your application. 

How Much Can I Earn?  

In 2024, the REC performance incentive is paid to the owner of the solar system at 3 cents ($0.03) per kilowatt hour of production. That means for every kilowatt-hour of energy your array produces, no matter who uses it, you earn 3 cents. It may not sound like much on this scale, but this incentive can add up to thousands of dollars per year, and don’t forget the program lasts 10 years at this locked-in rate! Payments are made by check in January and February of each year depending on your billing cycle. 

 Residential Systems 

  • Performance Incentive per kWh: $0.03 

There are up-front incentives available for income-qualified customers only and are calculated based on the proposed system size (kilowatts direct current): 

Income-Qualified Residential Systems 

  • Performance Incentive per kWh: $0.03 
  • Up-front Incentive $/Watt: $2.75 

Income-Qualified Non-Profit/Government Entity Systems 

  • Performance Incentive per kWh: $0.02 
  • Up-front Incentive $/Watt: $1.00 

Income-Qualified For-Profit Systems (e.g. Multi-Family Unit buildings) 

  • Performance Incentive per kWh: $0.02 
  • Up-front Incentive $/Watt: $0.50 

Note that the Income-Qualified Residential benefit is an excellent incentive, offering $2.75 per Watt of DC installed upfront. Let’s say you have a 10 kW DC system, which is 10,000 Watts. 10,000 x $2.75 = $27,500 paid to you shortly after your new array turns on. Between the upfront payout, the production-based incentive, and additional incentives like the solar ITC, you can expect to see immediate ROI on your array!  

How Do I Know If I’m Income-Qualified?

Income Qualified Eligibility is based on the Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) guidelines, or participation in the income-qualified Weatherization Assistance Program. Please visit these websites for more information.  

When Should I Apply for Solar*Rewards?

There is a limited budget for rewards which are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so you‘ll want to apply as early as possible! Applications will be accepted beginning January 29, 2024. 

If I Applied in Previous Years, Do I have to Reapply? 

If you applied and were accepted into the program in previous years, then you do not need to reapply. You’re set to watch the rewards flow in for years to come! If you applied in previous years and you were not accepted or were on the waitlist, then you need to reapply this year. 

How Do I Apply?

Cedar Creek Energy works directly with Xcel Energy on our clients’ behalf to apply for Solar*Rewards. We create your account, complete all forms and paperwork, and submit the application for you. We’ve got you completely covered. 

We ensure our clients receive the maximum funding and savings possible when switching to solar, which is why we stay up to date on all rebates, programs, and financing opportunities. You can count on our expertise to develop the ideal solar solution that fits your needs, protects your investment, and maximizes your savings.  

I Still Have Some Questions!  

We’re here to help you! We have installed thousands of solar projects in Minnesota and helped hundreds of customers like you enroll in Solar*Rewards. We look forward to working with you! Contact us to get started. 

Cedar Creek Energy