The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced millions of Americans to file for unemployment, but essential trades are still hard at work. That includes Minnesota community solar installations.
According to the executive director of Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, David Shaffer, Minnesota has a relatively relaxed governor order when compared to other states. Though residents are required to remain home, many industries can operate as normal during the pandemic. Among them are solar companies performing installations.
After Gov. Tim Walz announced solar companies as an “essential service,” the number of employees working in the field has increased. As April is already a busy month for solar installations, Minnesota community solar companies were expecting to hit roadblocks caused by the pandemic. Despite expectations for supply shortages, Shaffer states there have been no reports of installers not having the materials needed. Distributors also don’t predict future shortages for the duration of the stay-at-home orders.
While solar installations are still being performed, the hit to the economy and worldwide unemployment may cause a rise in cancelled or delayed projects. In that event, Shaffer believes the overstock of panels and reduction in work may cause prices to decrease during and immediately after the pandemic.
To aid in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, Minnesota community solar developers are adhering to CDC recommended precautions. When crews arrive on site, they’re equipped with masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves. According to Eric Pasi, chief development officer for IPS Solar, safety is a primary concern. Larger jobs are being planned to allow installers to practice distancing on the site.
Other community solar companies like TruNorth Solar LLC, Cedar Creek Energy, and All Energy Solar have imposed strict protocols, including taking on installations that don’t require employees to enter the home or putting a stop to all residential projects.
Even in cases where production has slowed, Pasi expects the workload to increase toward the end of the year as customers look to take advantage of the 26% tax credit before its drop to 22% in 2021.