ENERGY

BUDGET

Two-year funding is provided for the Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources, Public Utilities Commission, Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board, and Telecommunications, including agency operating adjustments. (SF 2)

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POLICY PROVISIONS

Energy storage

New energy storage provisions include setting criteria for utility cost recovery of energy storage system pilot projects, requiring investor-owned utilities to include in their resource plans an assessment of energy storage systems, and requiring an energy storage cost-benefit study. $150,000 is appropriated in FY19 from the Renewable Development Account.

Diversity stakeholders group

The Public Utilities Commission is to convene a diversity stakeholder group to examine the challenges and opportunities for Minnesota’s energy utilities to attract a diverse workforce with the skills needed to advance a 21st century industry and to increase supplier diversity of energy utilities.

Beneficial pollinator habitat

Owners of solar energy sites who make beneficial pollinator habitat claimsareto report on site management practices to the Board of Water and Soil Resources by June 1, 2020 and every three years thereafter.

Solar rewards

Under the Solar Rewards program, the total nameplate capacity of 40 kilowatts is calculated using alternating current instead of direct current.

Commercial PACE

New commercial development may be eligible for the state’s commercial Property AssessedClean Energy (PACE)program and updates are made to property assessment requirements.

Grid Reliability

The Grid Reliability Assessment is reinstated with a two-year sunset and retroactivity from June 29, 2018. The assessment, which sunsetted on June 20, 2018, provides annual funding for participation in regional and federal electric and natural gas reliability oversight, ensuring adequate and secure generation and transmission resources to serve Minnesota homes and businesses.

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PROVISIONS THAT DID NOT PASS

Enbridge Line 3 legal appeals

The bill would have prohibited the use of Commerce Department appropriations for activities related to legal appeals of the PUC’s decision on Enbridge Line 3.

Pipelines/trespassing

Trespassing on pipelines with intent to do damage would be made a felony (See Judiciary for more information).

Nuclear moratorium

The state’s prohibition on issuing a certificate of need for a new nuclear power plant would give Xcel Energy another option in planning for future energy resources. The moratorium has been in place for 25 years, and numerous attempts to repeal it have been unsuccessful.

Hydroelectric power

The 100-megawatt limit on hydroelectric power for the purpose of satisfying the state’s Renewable Energy Standard would be lifted. Supporters argued that hydropower is renewable energy and ought to be counted toward the standard. Opponents argued that counting more hydropower toward satisfying the Renewable Energy Standard would inhibit the development of other kinds of renewable energy.

Community solar garden changes

The scope of the state’s Community Solar Garden Program would be substantially reduced by capping the total capacity that can be built within the program at 25 megawatts, limiting the maximum amount for any single community solar garden to one megawatt, and other changes.

Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) changes

Numerous changes to the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) administered by the Department of Commerce would be made, primarily affecting requirements for cooperative and municipal utilities.

Renewable Development Account changes

These provisions passed the Senate as part of the Senate’s Energy Finance Bill (HF 2208)

  • Nuclear waste storage payments/RDA: Capping Xcel Energy’s annual contribution to the Renewable Development Account.
    • Beginning in 2020, the annual contribution to the Renewable Development Account required for Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear generating plants would be fixed at: $33 million in 2020, $31 million in 2021, and $20 million in 2022, and each year thereafter.
    • Once both nuclear plants were closed, the amount collected would be fixed at $12.75 million a year ($7.5 million for Prairie Island and $5.25 million for Monticello). Recovery of funds would be made through an Xcel Energy rate rider.
    • Xcel Energy would select members of the Renewable Development Account advisory group. Xcel Energy could pay third-party evaluator expenses from funds withheld from the transfer to the Renewable Development Account.
    • Xcel Energy would submit yearly budget estimates for deposits to the Renewable Development Account, and balances in the Account. A grant cycle would be initiated if more than $15 million was estimated to be available.
  • Community Energy Transition Competitive Grant Program: Establishing a new community energy transition grant program to help ease the conversion when communities face de-commissioning of an investor-owned utility electric plant powered by coal, nuclear energy, or natural gas ($500,000 in FY21 from the RDA).
  • Biomass compensation: Setting up a process through the Office of Administrative Hearings claims process to consider claims of businesses affected by closure of the biomass plant in Benson, Minnesota, and to issue compensation awards to eligible businesses for their losses ($40 million in FY20 from the RDA).
  • Prairie Island Net Zero Project: Directing the commissioner of employment and economic development to enter into a grant contract with the Prairie Island Indian Community to provide funds for research, development, and implementation of renewable energy projects that make Prairie Island a net zero community ($27.5 million in FY20-21 from the RDA).
  • Solar for Schools: Establishing a grant program to provide financial assistance to schools to install and operate new solar energy systems located on or near school buildings to help schools defray heating costs and provide the use of solar energy systems as a teaching tool ($2 million in FY20-21 from the RDA).
  • EV charging station loan program: Directing the commerce commissioner to set up a revolving loan program to help finance costs of building electric vehicle charging stations and requiring annual reports to the Legislature ($1.5 million in FY20 from the RDA).
  • Green roof task force: Establishing a green roof advisory task force to look at laws and issues related to green roofs and reporting to the Legislature ($55,000 in FY20 from the RDA).

100% by 2050

Legislation from the House would establish a plan for achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 in Minnesota. This was a top energy priority for the DFL-led House, and although it was introduced in the Senate, it did not receive a committee hearing.

Clean Energy First

Utilities would be required to prioritize renewable energy when retiring fossil fuels. Prior to investing in new electric generating capacity, utilities would need to evaluate whether clean energy technologies – such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand response, and energy storage – could provide that capacity affordably and reliably. Long-range planning would address replacement of outdated or expensive energy facilities, investment infrastructure needed for low-cost, reliable clean energy, and minimize economic impact to power plant host communities. The bill passed the Senate Energy Committee, but did not get a hearing in the Finance Committee. (SF 1456)

EV subsidies

$10.4 from the Renewable Development Account would be provided for an electric vehicle rebate program. (House provision)

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