Energy Bills Advancing Over Strong Opposition


“Omnibus Energy Bills” (HF956/SF901) that could dramatically reshape Minnesota’s energy future continue to move through the legislative process despite a lack of consensus among key stakeholders. While many observers anticipated movement this year to advance solar energy and distributed generation, the bills go farther than either the energy industry or its industrial and manufacturing customers anticipated or currently support. Also notable, the bills carry an unknown price tag for customers. While proponents argue the bills would save ratepayers money in the long run, opponents point to certain short term rate impacts that could significantly harm ratepayers, particularly business customers in energy intensive industries. Minnesota has never enacted significant energy policy legislation with such discord among the key players, so the bills will likely continue to evolve. As of today, here are some of the more controversial provisions.

In the House, HF956:

  • Raises Minnesota’s renewable energy standard (RES) for public utilities to 40% by 2030, while not extending this higher mandate to cooperatives or municipal utilities;
  • Creates a solar energy mandate in addition to the requirements of the RES, of 4% by 2025, with a “goal” of 10% by 2030, again exempting cooperatives and municipals from the mandate;
  • Creates a solar energy production incentive, funded by public utilities and their ratepayers, of up to 1.33% of the utility’s gross annual revenues, while also creating a new “value of solar” rate to be paid to producers; and
  • Raises Minnesota’s “net metering” threshold from 40 kW to 105 kW and prohibits a utility from limiting its total “net metered” generation to less than 5% of its total system sales.

In the Senate, SF901:

  • Does not currently increase the RES, but calls for the Legislative Energy Commission to create an “energy framework” for the state to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050;
  • Creates a new solar mandate of 4% by 2025 for public utilities and 2% by that same year for cooperatives and municipal utilities; and
  • Creates a solar energy production incentive to be paid to qualifying solar energy producers, with the incentive funded by each public utility and cooperative and municipal utility with 1 % of the utility’s gross annual revenues, while also creating a new “value of solar” rate to be paid to those producers.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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