How much is solar power worth?

Early last week, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a formula for calculating the value of generated, but unused, solar power. Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) passed the measure in a 3-2 vote, with the final methodology to be decided no later than April 1.

The new calculation is specifically designed for residential homes that rely on solar power for their energy needs. Residents are allowed to sell the power they generate, but do not consume, in a given month back to the utility company — freeing up this energy for another customer. Before, there was no clear way to determine the worth of unused solar power, but Minnesota is taking steps to change that.

If the Minnesota formula proves successful for the state, there is a chance it can be modified and adopted across the country. Consumers and utility companies have long debated how to deal with energy that is generated but not used, with consumers wanting financial compensation for power that would otherwise go to complete waste.

Experts think this groundbreaking new formula will be beneficial for Minnesota's gradually expanding solar power market. Having monetary benefits will be a great incentive for homeowners to install solar panels and other energy-efficient technology in their living spaces. Making these investments will yield savings each month even before a payment from the utility companies are factored in.

If you live in the Maryland area and are interested in improving the energy efficiency of your own home, there are plenty of steps you can take. A basic change – one recommended by Alban Inspections – is to replace all of the lighting in your home with CFL bulbs.