Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 2697

as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 03/27/2019 03:00pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - as introduced

Line numbers 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7
1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15
6.16 6.17
6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 6.23 6.24 6.25 6.26 6.27 6.28 6.29 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19
7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 7.25 7.26 7.27 7.28 7.29 7.30 7.31
8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17
8.18 8.19 8.20 8.21 8.22 8.23 8.24 8.25 8.26 8.27 8.28 8.29 9.1 9.2 9.3

A bill for an act
relating to solar energy; amending operational aspects of community solar gardens;
creating a new category of community solar gardens; requiring a report;
appropriating money;amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, sections 216B.1641;
216B.2422, subdivision 3; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes,
chapter 216B.

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 deleted text beginone megawattdeleted text endnew text begin three megawattsnew text end. 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 utilitynew text begin. Subscribers
must be
new text end located in the same county new text beginas the solar garden new text endor new text beginin new text enda new text begincontiguous new text endcounty deleted text begincontiguous
to where the facility is located.
deleted text endnew text begin, unless:
new text end

new text begin (1) the solar garden has a minimum setback of 100 feet from the nearest residential
property; and
new text end

new text begin (2) the owner or operator of the solar garden provides written certification to the
commission that at least ten percent of the solar garden's electric generating capacity is
reserved for residential subscribers.
new text end

(d) The public utility must purchase from the community solar garden all energy generated
by the solar garden. new text beginExcept as provided under subdivision 7, new text endthe purchase shall be at the
new text begin most recent three-year average of the new text endrate calculated new text beginannually new text endunder 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
either section 116C.7792 or section 216C.415. 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 Program administration; enforcement. new text end

new text begin (a) The Department of Commerce
must administer the solar community garden program and is responsible for implementing
all elements of the program. The department's duties under this section include:
new text end

new text begin (1) processing community solar garden applications;
new text end

new text begin (2) establishing and accepting program fees from applicants and solar garden managers;
new text end

new text begin (3) calculating the rate paid to subscribers and submitting the rate to the commission for
approval;
new text end

new text begin (4) ensuring that community solar garden program documents and protocols are available
to subscribers;
new text end

new text begin (5) ensuring solar garden managers provide adequate notice to subscribers of changes
in solar garden operations, including but not limited to adjustments in subscriber bill credit
rates;
new text end

new text begin (6) ensuring a utility conducts the interconnection process in a timely fashion;
new text end

new text begin (7) ensuring the actions of solar garden owners, operators, and subscribers comply with
this section and orders of the commission; and
new text end

new text begin (8) other administrative tasks as determined by the commissioner.
new text end

new text begin (b) The commissioner may use the authority granted under section 45.027 to enforce
any violations related to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner under
this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Account established. new text end

new text begin A solar garden administrative account is established in
the special revenue fund. Fees collected under this section must be deposited in and credited
to the account. Money in the account, including interest, is appropriated to the commissioner
to administer this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. 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 petition the commission to be designated as
a community access project. The commission must designate a solar garden as a community
access project if the solar garden meets 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 whose
community solar garden plan has been 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 address questions to the manager or owner.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. 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 commission 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;
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 at any time a solar garden approved by the commission as a community access
project fails to meet the conditions under subdivision 4, the solar garden is no longer subject
to subdivisions 5 and 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) A solar garden owner whose designation as a community access project is revoked
under this subdivision may reapply to the commission at any time to have its designation
as a community access project reinstated under subdivision 4.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. 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 in 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 subscribers that are low- and moderate-income 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. 9. 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 Subdivisions 4 and 5 are effective January 1, 2020. Subdivisions
1 to 3 and 6 to 9 are effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 2.

new text begin [216B.1643] LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
COMMUNITY SOLAR GARDEN GRANT PROGRAM.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Establishment; purpose. new text end

new text begin A Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
Program (LIHEAP) community solar garden grant program is established in the Department
of Commerce to award grants that promote the development of community solar gardens
in partnership with community action agencies for eligible residential subscribers.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Eligibility. new text end

new text begin (a) A community solar garden owner that meets all of the following
conditions is eligible to receive a grant under this section:
new text end

new text begin (1) the solar garden capacity is no greater than 500 kilowatts;
new text end

new text begin (2) all subscribers to the solar garden are residential subscribers who received LIHEAP
assistance during the year immediately preceding enrollment as a subscriber of the community
solar garden; and
new text end

new text begin (3) the solar garden is operated and managed by: (i) a community action agency, as
defined in section 256E.31, or by a third-party performing the duties under a contract with
a community action agency; or (ii) an organization, including but not limited to an Indian
tribe or tribal organization, that is under contract with the department to disburse LIHEAP
grants to eligible recipients, or a third-party performing disbursement duties under contract
with the organization.
new text end

new text begin (b) A community action agency responsible for managing an accessible solar garden
must annually certify to the commissioner that the LIHEAP solar garden complies with
paragraph (a).
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Application process. new text end

new text begin An eligible applicant must submit an application to the
commissioner on a form designed by the commissioner. The commissioner must develop
administrative procedures governing the application and grant award process.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Application content. new text end

new text begin An application for a grant under this section must include
(1) evidence that the community solar garden meets the eligibility requirements under
subdivision 2, and (2) any other information requested by the commissioner.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Limitations. new text end

new text begin A grant awarded under this section must not exceed 95 percent
of the total costs to develop the community solar garden.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Eligible expenditures. new text end

new text begin Grants awarded under this section may be expended to
finance, purchase, and install facilities necessary to operate a community solar garden.
new text end

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 216B.2422, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Environmental costs.

deleted text begin(a)deleted text end The commission shall, to the extent practicable,
quantify and establish a range of environmental costs associated with each method of
electricity generation. A utility shall use the values established by the commission in
conjunction with other external factors, including socioeconomic costs, when evaluating
and selecting resource options in all proceedings before the commission, including new text beginpower
purchase agreement,
new text endresource plannew text begin,new text end and certificate of need proceedings.new text begin When evaluating
resource options, the commission must include and consider the environmental cost values
adopted under this subdivision.
new text end

deleted text begin (b) The commission shall establish interim environmental cost values associated with
each method of electricity generation by March 1, 1994. These values expire on the date
the commission establishes environmental cost values under paragraph (a).
deleted text end

Sec. 4. new text beginGREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS REDUCTION STRATEGY; REPORT.
new text end

new text begin (a) The commissioner of commerce must develop benchmarks and strategies designed
to significantly accelerate the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2030.
The benchmarks and strategies must include strategies to:
new text end

new text begin (1) increase energy efficiency in all buildings, including residential;
new text end

new text begin (2) provide consumers with tools to manage personal energy use automatically, remotely,
and electronically;
new text end

new text begin (3) present consumers with financial incentives to shift energy use to periods when
systemwide demand and the cost of generation are low;
new text end

new text begin (4) electrify all sectors of the economy currently powered by fossil fuels;
new text end

new text begin (5) increase carbon sequestration in Minnesota lands and wetlands;
new text end

new text begin (6) incentivize the adoption of energy storage systems to accelerate the use of wind and
solar resources; and
new text end

new text begin (7) modernize the electric grid and promote the use of distributed energy resources.
new text end

new text begin (b) By November 30, 2019, the commissioner must submit a report containing the
benchmarks and strategies to the chairs and ranking minority members of the senate and
house of representatives committees with primary jurisdiction over energy policy.
new text end

Sec. 5. new text beginAPPROPRIATION.
new text end

new text begin (a) Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 116C.779, subdivision 1, paragraph (j),
$....... in fiscal year 2020 and $....... in fiscal year 2021 are appropriated from the renewable
development account established in Minnesota Statutes, section 116C.779, subdivision 1,
to the commissioner of commerce to fund the Department of Commerce's administrative
and enforcement activities under Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.1641, subdivision 4.
new text end

new text begin (b) Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 116C.779, subdivision 1, paragraph
(j), $1,000,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $1,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 are appropriated from
the renewable development account established in Minnesota Statutes, section 116C.779,
subdivision 1, to the commissioner of commerce for grants to owners of Low-Income Home
Energy Assistance Program community solar gardens under Minnesota Statutes, section
216B.1643. The base for this program in fiscal year 2030 is zero.
new text end

new text begin (c) Up to three percent of the appropriation made in paragraph (b) is available to the
commissioner of commerce to pay the reasonable costs to administer the grant program
under Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.1643.
new text end