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2013 energy legislation update

The 2013 Minnesota Legislature set several new policies intended to boost the state’s distributed generation, defined as the generation of electricity on-site or close to where it is needed in small facilities designed to meet local needs. The Minnesota Department of Commerce was charged with developing policy in several areas. The following is a brief summary of progress toward those goals:

  • Value of Solar Tariff. As an alternative to net metering, investor-owned utilities may apply to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a value of solar tariff that compensates customers through a credit for the value to the utility, its customers, and the environment for operating distributed photovoltaic (PV) systems interconnected to the utility and operated by the customer primarily for meeting their own energy needs. Commerce must establish a methodology for this tariff by Jan. 31, 2014 and submit it to the PUC, who then has 60 days to respond. A schedule of workshops and meetings to achieve this objective was sent recently to stakeholders. Questions or comments on the process can be sent to

  • Made in Minnesota Solar Incentives. The State passed energy legislation that established the Made in Minnesota incentive program for consumers who install solar PV and solar thermal systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. The statewide incentive program will be administered by the Department of Commerce, with a budget of up to $15 million a year for 10 years, including $250,000 per year for solar thermal rebates. Commerce recently invited solar manufacturers in Minnesota to participate in the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. To participate, manufacturers must fill out certification applications—one for solar PV posted on our website (.pdf) and another for solar thermal (to be posted in several days).

  • Energy studies. Commerce is required to oversee several new energy studies, including ones on the value of on-site energy storage and the value of solar thermal. The RFP for the energy storage study was posted and proposals were due Aug. 12; the grantee will be selected soon. The value of solar thermal study RFP is expected to be posted Sept. 3; check the RFP page for the posting. Both studies are due to the Legislature on Jan. 1, 2014.

  • Commerce-led stakeholder processes. The process to develop a Scoping for Energy Future study has begun. The study will examine what is necessary for the state to transition to a sustainable energy system that does not rely on fossil fuels. An RFP for a process leader was issued in July, a contract is expected in early September, and a national expert/landscape workshop is planned for Oct. 22. The process has begun to examine Minnesota’s energy savings goal (see the RFP announcement under “Funding Opportunities” below). In addition, two decoupling workshops were recently led by the PUC and Commerce. Webcasts of the July 17 and July 31 workshops are available on the PUC website.