MONTICELLO, Minn. — Supporters of solar power say the future is bright in Minnesota, thanks to a slew of subsidies toward requiring big utilities to generate 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020.

Despite a rush by some cities to get on the bandwagon, Monticello was the first municipality in the state to impose at least a temporary moratorium prohibiting installations to generate solar power.

“Given this emerging technology, it would be wise for the city to be proactive and take the opportunity to understand this issue for development and for regulations,” said Angela Schumann, Monticello community development director, in recommending the moratorium to the City Council on Nov. 24.

The interim ordinance slaps a year-long ban on applications or the issuance of city permits for the principal use of property for solar energy generation.

“Right in the middle of town, we could have a huge solar farm, which probably isn’t in the best interest of the city to have that there as opposed to a business,” said Monticello Mayor Clint Herbst.

The moratorium idea surfaced as City Hall began receiving anonymous exploratory inquiries about the availability of land within and just outside the city limits.

“They usually don’t disclose. They’re usually general questions,” said Schumann in an interview. “The handful of inquiries we’ve gotten are really more related to property. Is this property in the city. Is it out? Does the city allow solar energy, and in what capacity? And they really don’t disclose who they’re working for or in what capacity. So it’s difficult to know whether they’re solar development companies or landowners.”

After checking with other cities it became apparent to Monticello zoning officials entities tied to solar energy producers were targeting their neighbors.

“There’s been several cities or counties that have talked about whether they need to do a moratorium because there’s been this kind of a bit of a feeding frenzy around solar farms and solar energy development,” said Brian Ross of CR Planning, a consulting firm that advises local governments on energy policy and land use.