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SF 3213

as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 02/18/2020 08:44am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to energy; amending operational aspects of community solar gardens;
creating a new category of community solar gardens; amending Minnesota Statutes
2018, section 216B.1641.

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

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2018, 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) "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 (c) "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. new text beginExcept as provided under subdivisions 4, 5, 6, and 7, new text endthe 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 deleted text begineitherdeleted text end section 116C.7792 deleted text beginor section
216C.415
deleted text end. 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 community solar garden established
under a plan approved by the commission may apply to the utility to be designated as a
community access project. The utility must designate a solar garden as a community access
project if the solar garden commits 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 an 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 a designated 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 ask 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
designated 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
must not charge the owner of the community access project 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;
new text end

new text begin (3) a subscriber's portion of the energy purchased from a community access project by
a public utility must be credited to the subscriber's bill; and
new text end

new text begin (4) 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 sell the renewable energy credits to a third party, or sell or transfer the
renewable energy credits to the utility; and
new text end

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

new text begin (b) If a solar garden designated by the utility as a community access project fails to meet
the conditions under subdivision 4 at any time after the start of commercial operation, the
solar garden is no longer eligible to operate as a community access project under 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 no longer eligible for designation as a community access
project may at any time demonstrate to the utility that the solar garden fully complies with
the conditions of subdivision 4 in order to be reinstated as a community access project.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

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

new text begin (a) A community access project owner
must include the following information in an annual report to the community access project's
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 revenue received by the solar garden during the previous year that
was 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 analysis of the proportion of low- or moderate-income subscribers and a description
of one or more of the following methods used to calculate the proportion:
new text end

new text begin (i) income verification by subscribers;
new text end

new text begin (ii) subscriber evidence 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 low-income home energy assistance program;
new text end

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

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

new text begin (D) the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
new text end

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

new text begin (iii) 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 (iv) 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 section, the
commission must issue an order incorporating the provisions of this section.
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