Affordable, Clean and Reliable Energy

Minnesota Energy Infrastructure Act

The Senate DFL ushered through historic permitting reforms aimed at streamlining and expediting the regulatory process for clean energy projects in the state.

Under these changes, the PUC will now have to certify the completeness of an application within 10 days of receipt, environmental review staff are moved from the Dept. of Commerce to the PUC to cut down on administrative wait times, clean energy projects that will get the state to 100% carbon-free energy will be eligible to utilize the alternative review process, and certificate of need requirements are removed for most solar, wind, energy storage, and transmission projects.

Altogether, it’s estimated that this suite of reforms could shave up to one year of time off of clean energy projects, which will be critical as the state’s utilities and regulators work to achieve carbon-free energy for the state. (SF 4784)

Additional infrastructure planning and support

Thermal energy deployment
Two different provisions passed this year aim to study and plan for the deployment of thermal energy networks in the state.

The first provision requires the Dept. of Commerce to conduct a study looking at the state’s geologic and hydrologic landscape, the condition of existing infrastructure, and any current or needed local or state regulatory actions to facilitate thermal energy in the state.

The second provision requires the PUC to establish a work group with other state agencies and local governments, clean energy groups, utilities, and consumer protection groups for the purpose of developing recommendations for deploying thermal energy programs in the state. The group will be focusing on regulatory opportunities, barriers, public costs and benefits, and rate design options. (SF 4687, SF 4760)

Grid enhancing technologies
Requires owners of more than 750 miles of transmission lines in Minnesota to submit plans to the PUC identifying major points of congestion on their transmission system and analyzing how the deployment of cost-efficient grid enhancing technologies (GETs) can reduce congestion andsave ratepayers money by allowing the least costly sources of electricity to be delivered to them. (SF 3638)

Interconnectivity
Requires the PUC to open a docket by September 1, 2024, to develop generic statewide standards governing the sharing of the cost of upgrading congested or constrained locations on utility distribution systems in order to allow for the interconnection of distributed generation projects under 10 MW capacity.

Particularly as state and federal incentives expand access to small-scale energy options like rooftop solar, this interconnectivity work will be critical for ensuring every project is able to hook up to the grid in a timely manner. (SF 5395)

Solar App+
The Legislature this year provided $2 million in financial incentives for local permitting authorities to deploy federally developed software that automates and streamlines the permit reviewing and issuing process for residential solar projects. (SF 5271)

Carbon pipeline suitability
Requires the PUC to hire a third-party for a study assessing the human health and environmental impacts resulting from the construction, operation, and maintenance of CO2 pipelines and make recommendations for regulatory actions.

The study should look at advantageous and vulnerable geographic locations in the state, potential dangers due to pipeline leaks or ruptures and measures that could be taken to mitigate the impacts of any leaks or ruptures, long-term environmental impacts of any pipelines, lifecycle GHGs from pipelines (which should include an analysis of potential sequestration), and recommendations for the state to establish a regulatory process for these projects.

A report is due to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2026. (SF 4942)

Equity in utility service

Consumer protections for single-metered buildings
Renters in single-metered buildings will now have similar protections currently granted to all other utility customers in the state. With these changes, the Public Utilities Commission now has the authority to regulate single-metered buildings, and these tenants will see new transparency and fairness in their utility bills, protections from utility shut-offs and utility-related evictions, and access to resolution processes when disputes arise between tenants and their landlords/billers. (SF 4579)

Authorizing the use of ITIN’s for utility service
Allows utilities to accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in lieu of a Social Security Number on applications for new utility service, meaning more Minnesotans will be able to directly access utility services, even if they do not have an SSN. (SF 4159)

Building out clean energy projects and incentives

This year’s Omnibus Energy provisions included $15.45 million in spending form the Renewable Development Account, an account dedicated to facilitating new and emerging clean energy technologies in Xcel Energy service territory. The highlights from this year’s RDA spending include:

  • $6 million for Sabathani Community Center’s transformative project to provide a climate-resilient, equitable, and sustainable hub for the community
  • $1.2 million for grants to local units of government for feasibility and cost assessments for constructing geothermal energy systems
  • $500,000 for Dakota County to make several energy efficiency updates as the county works toward a goal of carbon neutrality
  • $5 million for a new anaerobic digester energy system near Shakopee, MN (SF 4942)
Senate DFL Media