Getting Started with Solar

This webpage contains information about solar energy in Morris, MN.  The city of Morris is proud to be a part of the SolSmart program, a national designation program through the Department of Energy recognizing cities that strive to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to grow solar energy.

SolSmart has three levels of designation.  SolSmart Bronze, Silver, and Gold designate increasing levels of encouragement and application of solar energy. Whichever level a city has achieved, the program recognizes cities which have demonstrated a commitment to solar energy by taking tangible steps toward integrating solar energy into their city.

To help communities achieve designation, SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance from a team of national experts who work to evaluate programs and practices that impact solar markets, and identify high-prospect opportunities for improvement.

About Solar Energy

Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, to provide hot water, and to heat, cool, and light buildings.  

Minnesota is a great place for solar energy.  Believe it or not, much of the Midwest has the same solar potential as Tallahassee, FL and Houston, TX! Through a combination of utility rebates and new technology, solar electricity continues to become more affordable and a more common part of our energy system. 

Zoning, Permit and Inspection Process

For solar systems in Morris, the following permit process is required. The city has created a checklist for home and business owners looking to install solar PV on their property, which can be viewed here.

  • A completed City building permit, check “Solar Rooftop PV” under Type of Improvement, found here
  • Electrical permit, through the State of MN, found here
  • Inspections occur through a State inspector, more information can be found on the state webpage here
  • For more information on electrical permitting contact Stevens County’s state inspector, Brandon Lennox, at (320) 808-5309.

Interested in your own solar energy system? 

Wondering if a particular site in Minnesota is good for solar energy? The Minnesota Solar Suitability App can help. This tool displays the solar potential of every spot in the state of Minnesota. With this data, and the services provided through this application, home and business owners can easily identify the solar potential of their property.  

How can I find a solar developer?  

Minnesota is home to many solar companies. The Clean Energy Project Builder is a great place to find an assortment of clean energy businesses including solar installers, community solar garden developers, energy auditors and more.

Wondering what questions to ask? Check out The State of Minnesota’s list of questions to ask potential renewable energy installers 

How can I find a community solar garden? 

Community Solar Gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers.  

Xcel Energy customers can participate in projects offered by private developers. Members of other utilities in Minnesota can subscribe to a community solar garden if one is offered by their electric utility.

Follow this link for great resources to learn more about if community solar is right for you. 

What is Morris doing around solar energy? 

The city of Morris is participating in SolSmart, a national program that provides free technical assistance with addressing local barriers to solar energy. Through this program, Morris is working to make it easier for residents and businesses choose solar energy. 

Is Financing Available for Solar Energy Projects? 

Residents interested in installing photovoltaic solar panels (the kind that produce electricity) on their property can access financing through the Center for Energy and Environment. Click here for more information.

Businesses can finance solar energy projects through a tool called “Property-Assessed Clean Energy”, or PACE, in which energy-saving measures are paid for through property taxes. This can work well even for businesses that rent their space. More information on PACE financing is available here

Interested in Employment in the Clean Energy Sector? 

The MN Clean Energy Job Board is a tool that job seekers can use to find jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields, and that employers can use to post their latest openings.