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Duluth Shines! empowers solar consumers

After a year of collaboration, design and testing, the Duluth Shines! solar application is live and ready for use by Duluth's citizens curious about the viability of including solar in their home or business energy mix.

Using technical assistance funding granted through Ecolibrium3's and MREA's Department of Energy Solar Market Pathways awards, in December of 2015 UMD's Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) and the Great Plains Institute started work on the Duluth Shines! Solar Potential Map application. This web tool was built using the existing Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis application then aggregates and summarizes solar measurements for individual buildings in a more focused and user-friendly format that provides locally calibrated results for installation sizing and cost, and offers information about available incentives, financing and installers. The GAC is currently digitizing a few remaining neighborhoods in the city and expects the application to cover all buildings in Duluth by February of 2017.

This project is just one strategy to help reduce the cost of solar in Duluth. Educating and empowering the public about both general and site-specific solar information better informs Duluthians who are considering solar electric sources for their homes or businesses. It also has the potential to drive down the local cost of solar since finding interested clients is a big cost to solar installers. Additionally, the map can serve as a platform for more detailed and sophisticated planning by the City of Duluth for a variety of infrastructure considerations, including local solar energy projects, as a way to lower energy costs for the city and taxpayers.