language to be deleted (2) new language
relating to energy; providing for energy conservation; regulating utilities and utility rates; modifying or adding provisions relating to renewable energy production incentives and initiatives, high-voltage transmission lines, central corridor utility zone cost adjustments, contracts, renewable energy purchases, decoupling criteria, certain appraisal fees, energy conservation, utility costs and refunds, renewable and high-efficiency energy rate options, solar energy, utility energy savings, biomethane purchases, Sustainable Building 2030, certificate of need exemptions, energy facilities, renewable development account, and Mountain Iron Economic Development Authority; providing for audit investigation costs and appropriating money; requiring studies, legislative reports and proposals; cancelling appropriations; appropriating money;
amending Minnesota Statutes 2008, sections 116C.779, subdivision 2, by adding a subdivision; 117.189; 216A.03, subdivision 6, by adding a subdivision; 216B.16, subdivisions 2, 6c, 7b, by adding a subdivision; 216B.1645, subdivision 2a; 216B.169, subdivision 2; 216B.1691, subdivision 2a; 216B.23, by adding a subdivision; 216B.241, subdivisions 1c, 5a, 9, by adding a subdivision; 216B.2411, subdivisions 1, 2; 216B.2412, subdivision 2; 216B.2424, subdivision 5a; 216B.243, subdivisions 8, 9; 216B.62, subdivisions 3, 4, by adding a subdivision; 216C.11; 216C.41, subdivision 5a; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapters 216B; 216C; repealing Laws 2007, chapter 3, section 3.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
(a) Until January 1, 2018, up to $10,900,000 annually must be allocated from available funds in the account to fund renewable energy production incentives. $9,400,000 of this annual amount is for incentives for up to 200 megawatts of electricity generated by wind energy conversion systems that are eligible for the incentives under section 216C.41.
The balance of this amount, up to $1,500,000 annually, may be used for production incentives for on-farm biogas recovery facilities that are eligible for the incentive under section 216C.41 or for production incentives for other renewables, to be provided in the same manner as under section 216C.41.
Any portion of the $10,900,000 not expended in any calendar year for the incentive is available for other spending purposes under this section. This subdivision does not create an obligation to contribute funds to the account.
(b) The Department of Commerce shall determine eligibility of projects under section 216C.41 for the purposes of this subdivision. At least quarterly, the Department of Commerce shall notify the public utility of the name and address of each eligible project owner and the amount due to each project under section 216C.41. The public utility shall make payments within 15 working days after receipt of notification of payments due.
Sections 117.031; 117.036; 117.055, subdivision 2, paragraph (b); 117.186; 117.187; 117.188; and 117.52, subdivisions 1a and 4, do not apply to public service corporations. For purposes of an award of appraisal fees under section 117.085, the fees awarded may not exceed $500 for all types of property.
An audio magnetic recording device shall be used to keep a record of all proceedings before the commission unless the commission provides a hearing reporter to record the proceeding.
(a) Whenever there is filed with the commission a schedule modifying or resulting in a change in any rates then in force as provided in subdivision 1, the commission may suspend the operation of the schedule by filing with the schedule of rates and delivering to the affected utility a statement in writing of its reasons for the suspension at any time before the rates become effective. The suspension shall not be for a longer period than ten months beyond the initial filing date except as provided in this subdivision or subdivision 1a.
(b) During the suspension the commission shall determine whether all questions of the reasonableness of the rates requested raised by persons deemed interested or by the department can be resolved to the satisfaction of the commission. If the commission finds that all significant issues raised have not been resolved to its satisfaction, or upon petition by ten percent of the affected customers or 250 affected customers, whichever is less, it shall refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings with instructions for a public hearing as a contested case pursuant to chapter 14, except as otherwise provided in this section.
(c) The commission may order that the issues presented by the proposed rate changes be bifurcated into two separate hearings as follows: (1) determination of the utility's revenue requirements and (2) determination of the rate design. Upon issuance of both administrative law judge reports, the issues shall again be joined for consideration and final determination by the commission.
(d) All prehearing discovery activities of state agency intervenors shall be consolidated and conducted by the Department of Commerce.
(e) If the commission does not make a final determination concerning a schedule of rates within ten months after the initial filing date, the schedule shall be deemed to have been approved by the commission; except if:
(1) an extension of the procedural schedule has been granted under subdivision 1a, in which case the schedule of rates is deemed to have been approved by the commission on the last day of the extended period of suspension; or
(2) a settlement has been submitted to and rejected by the commission and the commission does not make a final determination concerning the schedule of rates, the schedule of rates is deemed to have been approved 60 days after the initial or, if applicable, the extended period of suspension.
(f) If the commission finds that it has insufficient time during the suspension period to make a final determination of a case involving changes in general rates because of the need to make a final determination of another previously filed case involving changes in general rates under this section or section 237.075, the commission may extend the suspension period to the extent necessary to allow itself 20 working days to make the final determination after it has made a final determination in the previously filed case. An extension of the suspension period under this paragraph does not alter the setting of interim rates under subdivision 3.
(g) For the purposes of this section, "final determination" means the initial decision of the commission and not any order which may be entered by the commission in response to a petition for rehearing or other further relief. The commission may further suspend rates until it determines all those petitions.
(a) The commission may order public utilities to develop and submit for commission approval incentive plans that describe the method of recovery and accounting for utility conservation expenditures and savings. In developing the incentive plans the commission shall ensure the effective involvement of interested parties.
(b) In approving incentive plans, the commission shall consider:
(1) whether the plan is likely to increase utility investment in cost-effective energy conservation;
(2) whether the plan is compatible with the interest of utility ratepayers and other interested parties;
(3) whether the plan links the incentive to the utility's performance in achieving cost-effective conservation; and
(4) whether the plan is in conflict with other provisions of this chapter.
(c) The commission may set rates to encourage the vigorous and effective implementation of utility conservation programs. The commission may:
(1) increase or decrease any otherwise allowed rate of return on net investment based upon the utility's skill, efforts, and success in conserving energy;
(2) share between ratepayers and utilities the net savings resulting from energy conservation programs to the extent justified by the utility's skill, efforts, and success in conserving energy; and
(3) compensate the utility for earnings lost as a result of its conservation programs.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the commission may approve a tariff mechanism for the automatic annual adjustment of charges for the Minnesota jurisdictional costs of (i) new transmission facilities that have been separately filed and reviewed and approved by the commission under section 216B.243 are certified as a priority project or deemed to be a priority transmission project under section 216B.2425; and (ii) charges incurred by a utility that accrue from other transmission owners' regionally planned transmission projects that have been determined by the Midwest Independent System Operator to benefit the utility, as provided for under a federally approved tariff.
(b) Upon filing by a public utility or utilities providing transmission service, the commission may approve, reject, or modify, after notice and comment, a tariff that:
(1) allows the utility to recover on a timely basis the costs net of revenues of facilities approved under section 216B.243 or certified or deemed to be certified under section 216B.2425 or exempt from the requirements of section 216B.243;
(2) allows the charges incurred by a utility that accrue from other transmission owners' regionally planned transmission projects that have been determined by the Midwest Independent System Operator to benefit the utility, as provided for under a federally approved tariff. These charges must be reduced or offset by revenues received by the utility and by amounts the utility charges to other regional transmission owners, to the extent those revenues and charges have not been otherwise offset;
(3) allows a return on investment at the level approved in the utility's last general rate case, unless a different return is found to be consistent with the public interest;
(4) provides a current return on construction work in progress, provided that recovery from Minnesota retail customers for the allowance for funds used during construction is not sought through any other mechanism;
(5) allows for recovery of other expenses if shown to promote a least-cost project option or is otherwise in the public interest;
(6) allocates project costs appropriately between wholesale and retail customers;
(7) provides a mechanism for recovery above cost, if necessary to improve the overall economics of the project or projects or is otherwise in the public interest; and
(8) terminates recovery once costs have been fully recovered or have otherwise been reflected in the utility's general rates.
(c) A public utility may file annual rate adjustments to be applied to customer bills paid under the tariff approved in paragraph (b). In its filing, the public utility shall provide:
(1) a description of and context for the facilities included for recovery;
(2) a schedule for implementation of applicable projects;
(3) the utility's costs for these projects;
(4) a description of the utility's efforts to ensure the lowest costs to ratepayers for the project; and
(5) calculations to establish that the rate adjustment is consistent with the terms of the tariff established in paragraph (b).
(d) Upon receiving a filing for a rate adjustment pursuant to the tariff established in paragraph (b), the commission shall approve the annual rate adjustments provided that, after notice and comment, the costs included for recovery through the tariff were or are expected to be prudently incurred and achieve transmission system improvements at the lowest feasible and prudent cost to ratepayers.
(a) A utility may petition the commission to approve a rate schedule that provides for the automatic adjustment of charges to recover prudently incurred investments, expenses, or costs associated with facilities constructed, owned, or operated by a utility to satisfy the requirements of section 216B.1691, provided those facilities were previously approved by the commission under section 216B.2422 or 216B.243, or were determined by the commission to be reasonable and prudent under section 216B.243, subdivision 9. The commission may approve, or approve as modified, a rate schedule that:
(1) allows a utility to recover directly from customers on a timely basis the costs of qualifying renewable energy projects, including:
(i) return on investment;
(iii) ongoing operation and maintenance costs;
(iv) taxes; and
(v) costs of transmission and other ancillary expenses directly allocable to transmitting electricity generated from a project meeting the specifications of this paragraph;
(2) provides a current return on construction work in progress, provided that recovery of these costs from Minnesota ratepayers is not sought through any other mechanism;
(3) allows recovery of other expenses incurred that are directly related to a renewable energy project, including expenses for energy storage, provided that the utility demonstrates to the commission's satisfaction that the expenses improve project economics, ensure project implementation, or facilitate coordination with the development of transmission necessary to transport energy produced by the project to market;
(4) allocates recoverable costs appropriately between wholesale and retail customers;
(5) terminates recovery when costs have been fully recovered or have otherwise been reflected in a utility's rates.
(b) A petition filed under this subdivision must include:
(1) a description of the facilities for which costs are to be recovered;
(2) an implementation schedule for the facilities;
(3) the utility's costs for the facilities;
(4) a description of the utility's efforts to ensure that costs of the facilities are reasonable and were prudently incurred; and
(5) a description of the benefits of the project in promoting the development of renewable energy in a manner consistent with this chapter.
(a) Each utility shall offer its customers, and shall advertise the offer at least annually, one or more options that allow a customer to determine that a certain amount of the electricity generated or purchased on behalf of the customer is renewable energy or energy generated by high-efficiency, low-emissions, distributed generation such as fuel cells and microturbines fueled by a renewable fuel.
(b) Each public utility shall file an implementation plan within 90 days of July 1, 2001, to implement paragraph (a).
(c) Rates charged to customers must be calculated using the utility's cost of acquiring the energy for the customer and must:
(1) reflect the difference between the cost of generating or purchasing the renewable energy and the cost of generating or purchasing the same amount of nonrenewable energy; and
(2) be distributed on a per kilowatt-hour basis among all customers who choose to participate in the program.
(d) Implementation of these rate options may reflect a reasonable amount of lead time necessary to arrange acquisition of the energy. The utility may acquire the energy demanded by customers, in whole or in part, through procuring or generating the renewable energy directly, or through the purchase of credits from a provider that has received certification of eligible power supply pursuant to subdivision 3. If a utility is not able to arrange an adequate supply of renewable or high-efficiency energy to meet its customers' demand under this section, the utility must file a report with the commission detailing its efforts and reasons for its failure.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), each electric utility shall generate or procure sufficient electricity generated by an eligible energy technology to provide its retail customers in Minnesota, or the retail customers of a distribution utility to which the electric utility provides wholesale electric service, so that at least the following standard percentages of the electric utility's total retail electric sales to retail customers in Minnesota are generated by eligible energy technologies by the end of the year indicated:
(b) An electric utility that owned a nuclear generating facility as of January 1, 2007, must meet the requirements of this paragraph rather than paragraph (a). An electric utility subject to this paragraph must generate or procure sufficient electricity generated by an eligible energy technology to provide its retail customers in Minnesota or the retail customer of a distribution utility to which the electric utility provides wholesale electric service so that at least the following percentages of the electric utility's total retail electric sales to retail customers in Minnesota are generated by eligible energy technologies by the end of the year indicated:
Of the 30 percent in 2020, at least 25 percent must be generated by wind energy conversion systems and the remaining five percent by other eligible energy technology.
(a) The commissioner shall establish energy-saving goals for energy conservation improvement expenditures and shall evaluate an energy conservation improvement program on how well it meets the goals set.
(b) Each individual utility and association shall have an annual energy-savings goal equivalent to 1.5 percent of gross annual retail energy sales unless modified by the commissioner under paragraph (d). The savings goals must be calculated based on the most recent three-year weather normalized average.
(c) The commissioner must adopt a filing schedule that is designed to have all utilities and associations operating under an energy-savings plan by calendar year 2010.
(d) In its energy conservation improvement plan filing, a utility or association may request the commissioner to adjust its annual energy-savings percentage goal based on its historical conservation investment experience, customer class makeup, load growth, a conservation potential study, or other factors the commissioner determines warrants an adjustment. The commissioner may not approve a plan that provides for an annual energy-savings goal of less than one percent of gross annual retail energy sales from energy conservation improvements.
A utility or association may include in its energy conservation plan energy savings from electric utility infrastructure projects approved by the commission under section 216B.1636 or waste heat recovery converted into electricity projects that may count as energy savings in addition to the minimum energy-savings goal of at least one percent for energy conservation improvements. Electric utility infrastructure projects must result in increased energy efficiency greater than that which would have occurred through normal maintenance activity.
(e) An energy-savings goal is not satisfied by attaining the revenue expenditure requirements of subdivisions 1a and 1b, but can only be satisfied by meeting the energy-savings goal established in this subdivision.
(f) An association or utility is not required to make energy conservation investments to attain the energy-savings goals of this subdivision that are not cost-effective even if the investment is necessary to attain the energy-savings goals. For the purpose of this paragraph, in determining cost-effectiveness, the commissioner shall consider the costs and benefits to ratepayers, the utility, participants, and society. In addition, the commissioner shall consider the rate at which an association or municipal utility is increasing its energy savings and its expenditures on energy conservation.
(g) On an annual basis, the commissioner shall produce and make publicly available a report on the annual energy savings and estimated carbon dioxide reductions achieved by the energy conservation improvement programs for the two most recent years for which data is available. The commissioner shall report on program performance both in the aggregate and for each entity filing an energy conservation improvement plan for approval or review by the commissioner.
(h) By January 15, 2010, the commissioner shall report to the legislature whether the spending requirements under subdivisions 1a and 1b are necessary to achieve the energy-savings goals established in this subdivision.
(a) A utility or association may include in its conservation plan programs for the installation of qualifying solar energy projects as defined by section 216B.2411 to the extent of the spending allowed for generation projects by section 216B.2411. The cost-effectiveness of a qualifying solar energy project may be determined by a different standard than for other energy conservation improvements under this section if the commissioner determines it is in the public interest to do so to encourage solar energy projects. Energy savings from qualifying solar energy projects may not be counted toward the minimum energy-savings goal of at least one percent for energy conservation improvements required under subdivision 1c, but may, if the conservation plan is approved:
(1) be counted toward energy savings above that minimum percentage; and
(2) be considered when establishing performance incentives under section 216B.241, subdivision 2c.
(a) The purpose of this subdivision is to establish cost-effective energy-efficiency performance standards for new and substantially reconstructed commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings that can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions by lowering energy use in new and substantially reconstructed buildings. For the purposes of this subdivision, the establishment of these standards may be referred to as Sustainable Building 2030.
(b) The commissioner shall contract with the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota to coordinate development and implementation of energy-efficiency performance standards, strategic planning, research, data analysis, technology transfer, training, and other activities related to the purpose of Sustainable Building 2030. The commissioner and the Center for Sustainable Building Research shall, in consultation with utilities, builders, developers, building operators, and experts in building design and technology, develop a Sustainable Building 2030 implementation plan that must address, at a minimum, the following issues:
(1) training architects to incorporate the performance standards in building design;
(2) incorporating the performance standards in utility conservation improvement programs; and
(3) developing procedures for ongoing monitoring of energy use in buildings that have adopted the performance standards.
The plan must be submitted to the chairs and ranking minority members of the senate and house of representatives committees with primary jurisdiction over energy policy by July 1, 2009.
(c) Sustainable Building 2030 energy-efficiency performance standards must be firm, quantitative measures of total building energy use and associated carbon dioxide emissions per square foot for different building types and uses, that allow for accurate determinations of a building's conformance with a performance standard. The energy-efficiency performance standards must be updated every three or five years to incorporate all cost-effective measures. The performance standards must reflect the reductions in carbon dioxide emissions per square foot resulting from actions taken by utilities to comply with the renewable energy standards in section 216B.1691. The performance standards should be designed to achieve reductions equivalent to the following reduction schedule, measured against energy consumption by an average building in each applicable building sector in 2003: (1) 60 percent in 2010; (2) 70 percent in 2015; (3) 80 percent in 2020; and (4) 90 percent in 2025. A performance standard must not be established or increased absent a conclusive engineering analysis that it is cost-effective based upon established practices used in evaluating utility conservation improvement programs.
(d) The annual amount of the contract with the Center for Sustainable Building Research is up to $500,000. The Center for Sustainable Building Research shall expend no more than $150,000 of this amount each year on administration, coordination, and oversight activities related to Sustainable Building 2030. The balance of contract funds must be spent for subcontracts with not-for-profit energy organizations, architecture and engineering firms, and other qualified entities to undertake technical projects and activities in support of Sustainable Building 2030. The primary work to be accomplished each year by qualified technical experts under subcontracts is the development and thorough justification of recommendations for specific energy-efficiency performance standards. Additional work may include:
(1) research, development, and demonstration of new energy-efficiency technologies and techniques suitable for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings;
(2) analysis and evaluation of practices in building design, construction, commissioning and operations, and analysis and evaluation of energy use in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors;
(3) analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Sustainable Building 2030 performance standards, conservation improvement programs, and building energy codes;
(4) development and delivery of training programs for architects, engineers, commissioning agents, technicians, contractors, equipment suppliers, developers, and others in the building industries; and
(5) analyze and evaluate the effect of building operations on energy use.
(e) The commissioner shall require utilities to develop and implement conservation improvement programs that are expressly designed to achieve energy efficiency goals consistent with the Sustainable Building 2030 performance standards. These programs must include offerings of design assistance and modeling, financial incentives, and the verification of the proper installation of energy-efficient design components in new and substantially reconstructed buildings. A utility making an expenditure under its conservation improvement program that results in a building meeting the Sustainable Building 2030 performance standards may claim the energy savings toward its energy-savings goal established in subdivision 1c.
(f) The commissioner shall report to the legislature every three years, beginning January 15, 2010, on the cost-effectiveness and progress of implementing the Sustainable Building 2030 performance standards and shall make recommendations on the need to continue the program as described in this section.
(a) Any municipality or rural electric association providing electric service and subject to section 216B.241 may, and each public utility may, use five percent of the total amount to be spent on energy conservation improvements under section 216B.241, on:
(1) projects in Minnesota to construct an electric generating facility that utilizes eligible renewable energy sources as defined in subdivision 2, such as methane or other combustible gases derived from the processing of plant or animal wastes, biomass fuels such as short-rotation woody or fibrous agricultural crops, or other renewable fuel, as its primary fuel source;
(2) projects in Minnesota to install a distributed generation facility of ten megawatts or less of interconnected capacity that is fueled by natural gas, renewable fuels, or another similarly clean fuel; or
(3) projects in Minnesota to install a qualifying solar energy project as defined in subdivision 2.
For public utilities, as defined under section 216B.02, subdivision 4, projects under this section must be considered energy conservation improvements as defined in section 216B.241. For cooperative electric associations and municipal utilities, projects under this section must be considered load-management activities described in section 216B.241, subdivision 1.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the terms defined in this subdivision and section 216B.241, subdivision 1, have the meanings given them.
(b) "Eligible renewable energy sources" means fuels and technologies to generate electricity through the use of any of the resources listed in section 216B.1691, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), except that the incineration of wastewater sludge is not an eligible renewable energy source, "biomass" has the meaning provided under paragraph (c), and "solar" must be from a qualified solar energy project as defined in paragraph (d).
(c) "Biomass" includes:
(1) methane or other combustible gases derived from the processing of plant or animal material;
(2) alternative fuels derived from soybean and other agricultural plant oils or animal fats;
(3) combustion of barley hulls, corn, soy-based products, or other agricultural products;
(4) wood residue from the wood products industry in Minnesota or other wood products such as short-rotation woody or fibrous agricultural crops;
(5) landfill gas;
(6) the predominantly organic components of wastewater effluent, sludge, or related byproducts from publicly owned treatment works; and
(7) mixed municipal solid waste, and refuse-derived fuel from mixed municipal solid waste.
(d) "Qualifying solar energy project" means a qualifying solar thermal project or qualifying solar electric project.
(e) "Qualifying solar thermal project" means a flat plate or evacuated tube that meets the requirements of section 216C.25 with a fixed orientation that collects the sun's radiant energy and transfers it to a storage medium for distribution as energy to heat or cool air or water, but does not include equipment used to heat water at a residential property (1) for domestic use if less than one-half of the energy used for that purpose is derived from the sun or (2) for use in a hot tub or swimming pool.
(f) "Qualifying solar electric project" means
solar electric equipment that meets the requirements of section 216C.25 with a total peak generating capacity of 100 kilowatts or less used for generating electricity primarily for use in a residential property or small business to reduce the effective electric load for that residence or small business
(g) "Residential property" means the principal residence of a homeowner at the time the solar equipment is placed in service.
(h) "Small business" has the meaning given to it in section 645.445.
The commission shall, by order, establish criteria and standards for decoupling. The commission shall design the criteria and standards to mitigate the impact on public utilities of the energy-savings goals under section 216B.241 without adversely affecting utility ratepayers. In designing the criteria, the commission shall consider energy efficiency, weather, and cost of capital, among other factors.
(a) Notwithstanding subdivision 5, the biomass electric energy mandate must be reduced from 125 megawatts to 110 megawatts.
(b) The Public Utilities Commission shall approve a request pending before the commission as of May 15, 2003, for amendments to and assignment of a power purchase agreement with the owner of a facility that uses short-rotation, woody crops as its primary fuel previously approved to satisfy a portion of the biomass mandate if the owner of the project agrees to reduce the size of its project from 50 megawatts to 35 megawatts, while maintaining an average price for energy in nominal dollars measured over the term of the power purchase agreement at or below $104 per megawatt-hour, exclusive of any price adjustments that may take effect subsequent to commission approval of the power purchase agreement, as amended. The commission shall also approve, as necessary, any subsequent assignment or sale of the power purchase agreement or ownership of the project to an entity owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by two municipal utilities located north of Constitutional Route No. 8, as described in section 161.114, which currently own electric and steam generation facilities using coal as a fuel and which propose to retrofit their existing municipal electrical generating facilities to utilize biomass fuels in order to perform the power purchase agreement.
(c) If the power purchase agreement described in paragraph (b) is assigned to an entity that is, or becomes, owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by two municipal entities as described in paragraph (b), and the power purchase agreement meets the price requirements of paragraph (b), the commission shall approve any amendments to the power purchase agreement necessary to reflect the changes in project location and ownership and any other amendments made necessary by those changes. The commission shall also specifically find that:
(1) the power purchase agreement complies with and fully satisfies the provisions of this section to the full extent of its 35-megawatt capacity;
(2) all costs incurred by the public utility and all amounts to be paid by the public utility to the project owner under the terms of the power purchase agreement are fully recoverable pursuant to section 216B.1645;
(3) subject to prudency review by the commission, the public utility may recover from its Minnesota retail customers the Minnesota jurisdictional portion of the amounts that may be incurred and paid by the public utility during the full term of the power purchase agreement; and
(4) if the purchase power agreement meets the requirements of this subdivision, it is reasonable and in the public interest.
(d) The commission shall specifically approve recovery by the public utility of any and all Minnesota jurisdictional costs incurred by the public utility to improve, construct, install, or upgrade transmission, distribution, or other electrical facilities owned by the public utility or other persons in order to permit interconnection of the retrofitted biomass-fueled generating facilities or to obtain transmission service for the energy provided by the facilities to the public utility pursuant to section 216B.1645, and shall disapprove any provision in the power purchase agreement that requires the developer or owner of the project to pay the jurisdictional costs or that permit the public utility to terminate the power purchase agreement as a result of the existence of those costs or the public utility's obligation to pay any or all of those costs.
This section does not apply to:
(1) cogeneration or small power production facilities as defined in the Federal Power Act, United States Code, title 16, section 796, paragraph (17), subparagraph (A), and paragraph (18), subparagraph (A), and having a combined capacity at a single site of less than 80,000 kilowatts; plants or facilities for the production of ethanol or fuel alcohol; or any case where the commission has determined after being advised by the attorney general that its application has been preempted by federal law;
(2) a high-voltage transmission line proposed primarily to distribute electricity to serve the demand of a single customer at a single location, unless the applicant opts to request that the commission determine need under this section or section 216B.2425;
(3) the upgrade to a higher voltage of an existing transmission line that serves the demand of a single customer that primarily uses existing rights-of-way, unless the applicant opts to request that the commission determine need under this section or section 216B.2425;
(4) a high-voltage transmission line of one mile or less required to connect a new or upgraded substation to an existing, new, or upgraded high-voltage transmission line;
(5) conversion of the fuel source of an existing electric generating plant to using natural gas;
(6) the modification of an existing electric generating plant to increase efficiency, as long as the capacity of the plant is not increased more than ten percent or more than 100 megawatts, whichever is greater; or
(7) a large energy facility that (i) generates electricity from wind energy conversion systems, (ii) will serve retail customers in Minnesota, (iii) is specifically intended to be used to meet the renewable energy objective under section 216B.1691 or addresses a resource need identified in a current commission-approved or commission-reviewed resource plan under section 216B.2422, and (iv) derives at least ten percent of the total nameplate capacity of the proposed project from one or more C-BED projects, as defined under section 216B.1612, subdivision 2, paragraph (f).
The requirements of This section do not apply to a wind energy conversion system or a solar electric generation facility that is intended to be used to meet or exceed the obligations of section 216B.1691; provided that, after notice and comment, the commission determines that the facility is a reasonable and prudent approach to meeting a utility's obligations under that section. When making this determination, the commission may consider
the size of the facility relative to a utility's total need for renewable resources and
alternative approaches for supplying the renewable energy to be supplied by the proposed facility, and must consider
the facility's ability to promote economic development, as required under section 216B.1691, subdivision 9,
maintain electric system reliability and consider
impacts on ratepayers, and
other criteria as the commission may determine are relevant.
The department and commission shall quarterly, at least 30 days before the start of each quarter, estimate the total of their expenditures in the performance of their duties relating to (1) public utilities under section 216A.085, sections 216B.01 to 216B.67, other than amounts chargeable to public utilities under subdivision 2 or 6, and (2) alternative energy engineering activity under section 216C.261. The remainder, except the amount assessed against cooperatives and municipalities for alternative energy engineering activity under subdivision 5, shall be assessed by the commission and department to the several public utilities in proportion to their respective gross operating revenues from retail sales of gas or electric service within the state during the last calendar year. The assessment shall be paid into the state treasury within 30 days after the bill has been transmitted via mail, personal delivery, or electronic service to the several public utilities, which shall constitute notice of the assessment and demand of payment thereof. The total amount which may be assessed to the public utilities, under authority of this subdivision, shall not exceed one-sixth of one percent of the total gross operating revenues of the public utilities during the calendar year from retail sales of gas or electric service within the state. The assessment for the third quarter of each fiscal year shall be adjusted to compensate for the amount by which actual expenditures by the commission and department for the preceding fiscal year were more or less than the estimated expenditures previously assessed.
Within 30 days after the date of the transmittal of any bill as provided by subdivisions 2 and 3, the public utility against which the bill has been rendered may file with the commission objections setting out the grounds upon which it is claimed the bill is excessive, erroneous, unlawful or invalid. The commission shall within 60 days hold a hearing and issue an order in accordance with its findings. The order shall be appealable in the same manner as other final orders of the commission.
The commissioner shall establish an Energy Information Center in the department's offices in St. Paul. The information center shall maintain a toll-free telephone information service and disseminate printed materials on energy conservation topics, including but not limited to, availability of loans and other public and private financing methods for energy conservation physical improvements, the techniques and materials used to conserve energy in buildings, including retrofitting or upgrading insulation and installing weatherstripping, the projected prices and availability of different sources of energy, and alternative sources of energy.
The Energy Information Center shall serve as the official Minnesota Alcohol Fuels Information Center and shall disseminate information, printed, by the toll-free telephone information service, or otherwise on the applicability and technology of alcohol fuels.
The information center shall include information on the potential hazards of energy conservation techniques and improvements in the printed materials disseminated. The commissioner shall not be liable for damages arising from the installation or operation of equipment or materials recommended by the information center.
The information center shall use the information collected under section 216C.02, subdivision 1, to maintain a central source of information on conservation and other energy-related programs, including both programs required by law or rule and programs developed and carried on voluntarily. In particular, the information center shall compile and maintain information on policies covering disconnections or denials of fuel during cold weather adopted by public utilities and other fuel suppliers not governed by Minnesota Rules, parts 7820.1500 to 7820.2300, including the number of households disconnected or denied fuel and the duration of the disconnections or denials.
The Department of Commerce shall authorize payment of the renewable energy production incentive to wind energy conversion systems for 200 megawatts of nameplate capacity and to on-farm biogas recovery facilities. Payment of the incentive shall be made from the renewable energy development account as provided under section 116C.779, subdivision 2.
Presented to the governor May 15, 2009
Signed by the governor May 19, 2009, 2:21 p.m.