Net metering receives first veto

Legislation to end state oversight of small utilities’ fixed fees for net metering was vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton this week. In his veto message, Governor Dayton wrote, “The legislation removes the Public Utilities Commission’s authority to resolve disputes between consumers and their municipal or cooperative utilities.” He also said, “Eliminating the PUC’s role would remove critical consumer protection for customers and the effect of this proposed legislation would negatively impact Minnesota’s progress toward more renewable and efficient energy.”

Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. This bill would have prohibited state regulators from overseeing fixed charges paid by distributed generation customers of cooperatives and municipally owned power companies. Under this bill, cooperatives could have been exempt from the fixed fees if they did so by resolution and adopted their own rules for implementing net metering.

Advocates for the bill have sided with electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities, arguing the PUC should not have a role in regulating net metering for cooperatives as it does for investor-owned utilities. Co-ops and municipals also maintain that serving distributed generation customers is costlier in rural, sparsely-populated areas and they have a long and successful history of self-regulation. (HF234)