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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 488

as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 02/07/2019 03:10pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to energy; regulating 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.

(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 deleted text beginanydeleted text endnew text begin the solar energynew text end incentive
deleted text begin programsdeleted text endnew text begin programnew text end offered under deleted text begineitherdeleted text end section 116C.7792 deleted text beginor section 216C.415deleted text end. A
subscriber's portion of the purchase shall be provided by a credit on the subscriber's bill.

(e) The commission may approve, disapprove, or modify a community solar garden
program. 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; deleted text beginand
deleted text end

(8) identify the means by which the program will be promoteddeleted text begin.deleted text endnew text begin;
new text end

new text begin (9) certify that the following information is contained in any promotional materials
developed by the solar garden owner or the utility purchasing the solar garden's generation
and is provided separately in writing to prospective subscribers at least 15 days prior to the
date a contract is entered into by the subscriber and the community solar garden owner:
new text end

new text begin (i) an estimate of the annual generation of electricity by the community solar garden,
calculated using the formula developed by the commission under paragraph (i); and
new text end

new text begin (ii) an estimate of the length of time required to fully recover a subscriber's initial
lump-sum payments made to the owner of the solar garden prior to the delivery of electricity
to the subscriber by the solar garden, calculated using the formula developed by the
commission under paragraph (j);
new text end

new text begin (10) certify that the utility and the solar garden owner must submit copies of all marketing
and promotional material and sample contracts to the commission, and that the materials
are updated periodically;
new text end

new text begin (11) certify that the solar garden owner has placed sufficient financial resources into an
escrow account in order to reimburse subscribers for any financial losses incurred if the
project fails to meet the contract provisions;
new text end

new text begin (12) provide a mechanism for subscribers to transfer subscriptions to other new or current
subscribers, or to cancel subscriptions for a full refund;
new text end

new text begin (13) require a solar garden owner and the utility purchasing electricity generated by the
solar garden to forward customer complaints regarding the operation of the solar garden to
the commission;
new text end

new text begin (14) require that the contract between a subscriber and the solar garden owner contains
a warranty for a minimum level of electricity to be delivered to the subscriber from the
community garden; and
new text end

new text begin (15) reflect the commission's determination that:
new text end

new text begin (i) the plan is financially viable; and
new text end

new text begin (ii) the contract between a subscriber and the solar garden owner is fair, reasonable, and
not discriminatory.
new text end

(f) 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.

(g) 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.

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

(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

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

new text begin (i) By July 30, 2019, the commission must develop a formula to be used by all solar
garden owners to estimate the annual amount of electricity generated by the solar garden.
new text end

new text begin (j) By July 30, 2019, the commission must develop a formula used by all solar garden
owners to estimate the length of time required to fully recover a subscriber's lump-sum
payments made to the solar garden owner prior to the delivery of electricity to the subscriber
by the solar garden.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment and
applies to any plan submitted to the commission for approval on or after that date.
new text end