Omnibus Jobs/Energy Bill Passes Legislature and Signed by Governor Dayton

Energy Provisions in the final Omnibus Jobs/Energy Bill that passed the legislature on May 22nd and signed by the Governor on May 30th.

Modify the 1.5% Solar Energy Standard (SES)

This legislation would still require Xcel Energy to meet the 10% “small” solar mandate of 20 kilowatts or less.  However, it would give flexibility to MN Power & Otter Tail Power by increasing the 10% “small” solar mandate to 40 kilowatts or less and allowing individual subscriptions to a community solar garden program to be counted in the 10% “small solar” mandate.

PUC to Broaden Considerations in Least-Cost Resource Planning 

Current law directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to consider whether a utility company’s resource plan helps the utility achieve the state’s greenhouse gas goals, the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) or the Solar Energy Standard (SES).

Legislation that requires the PUC to also consider 1) the impacts on local and regional grid reliability; 2) utility and ratepayer impacts resulting from the intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities; and 3) utility and ratepayers impacts resulting from reduced exposure to fuel price volatility, changes in transmission costs, generation diversification and environmental compliance costs.

Xcel Energy’s Biomass Mandate

The energy from waste products – such as wood and agricultural waste – can be used to produce electricity and in 1994 Xcel Energy was mandated to own or purchase 125 MW of electricity generated from biomass.

There was a provision to allow Xcel Energy to renegotiate a number of their biomass Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and allow the PUC to approve these amended power purchase agreements or early termination agreements if all parties are supportive of changes.

Money from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund (RDF) – now known as the Renewable Development Account (RDA) – has been earmarked for communities where biomass plants are currently located and could be closed.  In addition, there will be an economic impact study of biomass facility closure in the impacted communities.

Minnesota’s Electric Rates Goal

There is a provision the establishes a State Goal that all retail electric rates, regardless of class (residential, industrial or commercial), shall be 5% below national average by 2025.

These provisions were included in the Omnibus Jobs/Energy Bill which was signed by the Governor.