Inside Track
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St. Paul-based All Energy Solar, the designer and installer of solar-power systems for homes and businesses in six states, has moved to a larger location in St. Paul’s Energy Park industrial-commercial area that is three times its previous space a couple miles away.

“Keeping our headquarters local lets us look forward to hiring even more members of our community as we grow,” said All Energy President Michael Allen, 36,who owns the 10-year-old company with his brother. “And with Governor Walz sending a clear message of support to the green economy . . . solar awareness will rise even higher.”

Allen noted that “solar panel installer” is Minnesota’s fastest-growing job category. The company, while declining to cite dollar figures, said sales have risen by at least 20 percent annually over the last five years.

The 135-employee firm has added 20 workers this year, with plans for up to 20 more.

“The majority of the positions we are hiring for are solar installers who make in the high $40,000 range to $60,000,” he said. “Our journeymen electricians are making in the low-90s to more than $100,000 a year.”

Allen said he expects to install systems on 1,000 buildings this year, up from 700 last year, including homes, businesses, farms, churches and schools.

Solar energy provides an estimated 2 percent or less of Minnesota energy, but it has gotten a boost as price has declined and proposals by Gov. Tim Walz and Xcel Energy to provide 100 percent “carbon-free” electrical energy, including wind and nuclear, by 2050.

Coal is still king in Minnesota electrical generation, at about 40 percent. That is down from 66 percent over the last decade. Wind power has grown to about 20 percent and natural gas, much cleaner than coal, also has grown in combination with wind and solar.

All told, Minnesota electrical power from renewable energy grew from 6 percent to 25 percent since 2000, according to a recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The same study, released in April, found that wind, even sans tax subsidies, arguably is the state’s cheapest source of new electricity, according to Bloomberg’s annual survey in March of U.S. power generation with help from Clean Energy Economy Minnesota. The cost of new wind and solar power in Minnesota fell by 16 and 23 percent in 2018 over the previous year.