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SF 1508

as introduced - 92nd Legislature (2021 - 2022) Posted on 03/11/2021 04:54pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to community solar gardens; modifying the community solar garden
program; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 216B.1641.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 216B.1641, is amended to read:


216B.1641 COMMUNITY SOLAR GARDEN.

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have
the meanings given.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Subscribed energy" means electricity generated by the community solar garden that
is attributable to a subscriber's subscription.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Subscriber" means a retail customer who owns one or more subscriptions of a
community solar garden interconnected with the retail customer's utility.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Subscription" means a contract between a subscriber and the owner of a solar garden.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Solar garden; project requirements. new text end

(a) The public utility subject to section
116C.779 shall file by September 30, 2013, a plan with the commission to operate a
community solar garden program which shall begin operations within 90 days after
commission approval of the plan. Other public utilities may file an application at their
election. The community solar garden program must be designed to offset the energy use
of not less than five subscribers in each community solar garden facility of which no single
subscriber has more than a 40 percent interest. The owner of the community solar garden
may be a public utility or any other entity or organization that contracts to sell the output
from the community solar garden to the utility under section 216B.164. There shall be no
limitation on the number or cumulative generating capacity of community solar garden
facilities other than the limitations imposed under section 216B.164, subdivision 4c, or
other limitations provided in law or regulations.

(b) A solar garden is a facility that generates electricity by means of a ground-mounted
or roof-mounted solar photovoltaic device whereby subscribers receive a bill credit for the
electricity generated in proportion to the size of their subscription. The solar garden must
have a nameplate capacity of no more than one megawatt. Each subscription shall be sized
to represent at least 200 watts of the community solar garden's generating capacity and to
supply, when combined with other distributed generation resources serving the premises,
no more than 120 percent of the average annual consumption of electricity by each subscriber
at the premises to which the subscription is attributed.

(c) The solar generation facility must be located in the service territory of the public
utility filing the plan. Subscribers must be retail customers of the public utility located in
the same county or a county contiguous to where the facility is located.

(d) The public utility must purchase from the community solar garden all energy generated
by the solar garden. The purchase shall be at the rate calculated under section 216B.164,
subdivision 10
, or, until that rate for the public utility has been approved by the commission,
the applicable retail rate. A solar garden is eligible for any incentive programs offered under
section 116C.7792. A subscriber's portion of the purchase shall be provided by a credit on
the subscriber's bill.

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Solar garden plan; requirements; nonutility status. new text end

deleted text begin(e)deleted text endnew text begin (a)new text end The commission
may approve, disapprove, or modify a community solar garden deleted text beginprogramdeleted text endnew text begin plannew text end. Any plan
approved by the commission must:

(1) reasonably allow for the creation, financing, and accessibility of community solar
gardens;

(2) establish uniform standards, fees, and processes for the interconnection of community
solar garden facilities that allow the utility to recover reasonable interconnection costs for
each community solar garden;

(3) not apply different requirements to utility and nonutility community solar garden
facilities;

(4) be consistent with the public interest;

(5) identify the information that must be provided to potential subscribers to ensure fair
disclosure of future costs and benefits of subscriptions;

(6) include a program implementation schedule;

(7) identify all proposed rules, fees, and charges; and

(8) identify the means by which the program will be promoted.

deleted text begin (f)deleted text endnew text begin (b)new text end Notwithstanding any other law, neither the manager of nor the subscribers to a
community solar garden facility shall be considered a utility solely as a result of their
participation in the community solar garden facility.

deleted text begin (g)deleted text endnew text begin (c)new text end Within 180 days of commission approval of a plan under this section, a utility
shall begin crediting subscriber accounts for each community solar garden facility in its
service territory, and shall file with the commissioner of commerce a description of its
crediting system.

deleted text begin (h) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the meanings given:
deleted text end

deleted text begin (1) "subscriber" means a retail customer of a utility who owns one or more subscriptions
of a community solar garden facility interconnected with that utility; and
deleted text end

deleted text begin (2) "subscription" means a contract between a subscriber and the owner of a solar garden.
deleted text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Community access project; eligibility. new text end

new text begin (a) An owner of a community solar
garden may apply to the utility to be designated as a community access project at any time:
new text end

new text begin (1) before the owner makes an initial payment under an interconnection agreement
entered into with a public utility; or
new text end

new text begin (2) if the owner made an initial payment under an interconnection agreement between
January 1, 2021, and the effective date of this act, before commercial operation begins.
new text end

new text begin (b) The utility must designate a solar garden as a community access project if the owner
of a solar garden commits in writing to meet the following conditions:
new text end

new text begin (1) at least 50 percent of the solar garden's generating capacity is subscribed by residential
customers;
new text end

new text begin (2) the contract between the owner of the solar garden and the public utility that purchases
the garden's electricity, and any agreement between the utility or owner of the solar garden
and subscribers, states that the owner of the solar garden does not discriminate against or
screen subscribers based on income or credit score and that any customer of a utility with
a community solar garden plan approved by the commission under subdivision 3 is eligible
to become a subscriber;
new text end

new text begin (3) the solar garden is operated by an entity that maintains a physical address in Minnesota
and has designated a contact person in Minnesota who responds to subscriber inquiries; and
new text end

new text begin (4) the agreement between the owner of the solar garden and subscribers states that the
owner must adequately publicize and convene at least one meeting annually to provide an
opportunity for subscribers to pose questions to the manager or owner.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Community access project; financial arrangements. new text end

new text begin (a) If a solar garden is
approved by the utility as a community access project:
new text end

new text begin (1) the public utility purchasing the electricity generated by the community access project
may charge the owner of the community access project no more than one cent per watt
alternating current based on the solar garden's generating capacity for any refundable deposit
the utility requires of a solar garden during the application process;
new text end

new text begin (2) notwithstanding subdivision 2, paragraph (d), the public utility must purchase all
energy generated by the community access project at the retail rate; and
new text end

new text begin (3) all renewable energy credits generated by the community access project belong to
subscribers unless the operator:
new text end

new text begin (i) contracts to:
new text end

new text begin (A) sell the credits to a third party; or
new text end

new text begin (B) sell or transfer the credits to the utility; and
new text end

new text begin (ii) discloses a sale or transfer to subscribers at the time the subscribers enter into a
subscription.
new text end

new text begin (b) If at any time after commercial operation begins a solar garden approved by the
utility as a community access project fails to meet the conditions under subdivision 4, the
solar garden is no longer subject to the provisions of this subdivision and subdivision 6,
and must operate under the program rules established by the commission for a solar garden
that does not qualify as a community access project.
new text end

new text begin (c) An owner of a solar garden whose designation as a community access project is
revoked under this subdivision may reapply to the commission at any time to have the
designation as a community access project reinstated under subdivision 4.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Community access project; reporting. new text end

new text begin The owner of a community access
project must include the following information in an annual report to the community access
project subscribers and the utility:
new text end

new text begin (1) a description of the process by which subscribers can provide input to solar garden
policy and decision making;
new text end

new text begin (2) the amount of revenues received by the solar garden in the previous year that were
allocated to categories that include but are not limited to operating costs, debt service, profits
distributed to subscribers, and profits distributed to others; and
new text end

new text begin (3) an estimate of the proportion of low- and moderate-income subscribers, and a
description of one or more of the following methods used to make the estimate:
new text end

new text begin (i) evidence provided by a subscriber that the subscriber or a member of the subscriber's
household receives assistance from any of the following sources:
new text end

new text begin (A) the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
new text end

new text begin (B) federal Section 8 housing assistance;
new text end

new text begin (C) medical assistance;
new text end

new text begin (D) the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; or
new text end

new text begin (E) the federal National School Lunch Program;
new text end

new text begin (ii) characterization of the census tract where the subscriber resides as low- or
moderate-income by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council; or
new text end

new text begin (iii) other methods approved by the commission.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Commission order. new text end

new text begin Within 180 days of the effective date of this act, the
commission must issue an order addressing the requirements of this act.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end