This northern state is known for its plethora of lakes, broad swathes of forest, and the unique accent of its residents. It also has a thriving renewable sector, and has established itself as a leader in incentives and renewable energy policy

Minnesota’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is one of the strongest in the nation, and requires utilities to source 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Solar energy saw a massive up-tick with the 2013 passage of the Solar Energy Jobs Act, which mandates that solar provide 1.5 % of energy sales by 2020 and encourages utilities to reach 10 % by 2030. Xcel Energy, the largest single Minnesota utility, expects to reach and possibly exceed those goals.

Minnesota has a diverse energy portfolio, with a strong reliance on natural gas and nuclear power. Interestingly, the state produces nearly as much energy from renewables as it does coal. Additionally, the state’s emphasis on efficiency means that though the state has brutally cold winters, it ranks 25th in the country for per capita residential energy use.

The solar industry is not without its critics, however. Although energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprints are top priorities for both Republicans and Democrats in Minnesota, whether solar and other renewables are the best investment receives debate at the state capital.