216B.241 Energy conservation improvement.
Subdivision 1. Definitions. For purposes of this section and section 216B.16, subdivision 6b, the terms defined in this subdivision have the meanings given them.
(a) "Commission" means the Public Utilities Commission.
(b) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of commerce.
(c) "Customer facility" means all buildings, structures, equipment, and installations at a single site.
(d) "Department" means the Department of Commerce.
(e) "Energy conservation" means demand-side management of energy supplies resulting in a net reduction in energy use. Load management that reduces overall energy use is energy conservation.
(f) "Energy conservation improvement" means a project that results in energy conservation.
(g) "Investments and expenses of a public utility" includes the investments and expenses incurred by a public utility in connection with an energy conservation improvement, including but not limited to:
(1) the differential in interest cost between the market rate and the rate charged on a no-interest or below-market interest loan made by a public utility to a customer for the purchase or installation of an energy conservation improvement;
(2) the difference between the utility's cost of purchase or installation of energy conservation improvements and any price charged by a public utility to a customer for such improvements.
(h) "Large electric customer facility" means a customer facility that imposes a peak electrical demand on an electric utility's system of not less than 20,000 kilowatts, measured in the same way as the utility that serves the customer facility measures electrical demand for billing purposes, and for which electric services are provided at retail on a single bill by a utility operating in the state.
(i) "Load management" means an activity, service, or technology to change the timing or the efficiency of a customer's use of energy that allows a utility or a customer to respond to wholesale market fluctuations or to reduce the overall demand for energy or capacity.
Subd. 1a. Investment, expenditure, and contribution; public utility. (a) For purposes of this subdivision and subdivision 2, "public utility" has the meaning given it in section 216B.02, subdivision 4. Each public utility shall spend and invest for energy conservation improvements under this subdivision and subdivision 2 the following amounts:
(1) for a utility that furnishes gas service, 0.5 percent of its gross operating revenues from service provided in the state;
(2) for a utility that furnishes electric service, 1.5 percent of its gross operating revenues from service provided in the state; and
(3) for a utility that furnishes electric service and that operates a nuclear-powered electric generating plant within the state, two percent of its gross operating revenues from service provided in the state.
For purposes of this paragraph (a), "gross operating revenues" do not include revenues from large electric customer facilities exempted by the commissioner under paragraph (b).
(b) The owner of a large electric customer facility may petition the commissioner to exempt both electric and gas utilities serving the large energy customer facility from the investment and expenditure requirements of paragraph (a) with respect to retail revenues attributable to the facility. At a minimum, the petition must be supported by evidence relating to competitive or economic pressures on the customer and a showing by the customer of reasonable efforts to identify, evaluate, and implement cost-effective conservation improvements at the facility. If a petition is filed on or before October 1 of any year, the order of the commissioner to exempt revenues attributable to the facility can be effective no earlier than January 1 of the following year. The commissioner shall not grant an exemption if the commissioner determines that granting the exemption is contrary to the public interest. The commissioner may, after investigation, rescind any exemption granted under this paragraph upon a determination that cost-effective energy conservation improvements are available at the large electric customer facility. For the purposes of this paragraph, "cost-effective" means that the projected total cost of the energy conservation improvement at the large electric customer facility is less than the projected present value of the energy and demand savings resulting from the energy conservation improvement. For the purposes of investigations by the commissioner under this paragraph, the owner of any large electric customer facility shall, upon request, provide the commissioner with updated information comparable to that originally supplied in or with the owner's original petition under this paragraph.
(c) The commissioner may require investments or spending greater than the amounts required under this subdivision for a public utility whose most recent advance forecast required under section 216B.2422 or 216C.17 projects a peak demand deficit of 100 megawatts or greater within five years under midrange forecast assumptions.
(d) A public utility or owner of a large electric customer facility may appeal a decision of the commissioner under paragraph (b) or (c) to the commission under subdivision 2. In reviewing a decision of the commissioner under paragraph (b) or (c), the commission shall rescind the decision if it finds that the required investments or spending will:
(1) not result in cost-effective energy conservation improvements; or
(2) otherwise not be in the public interest.
(e) Each utility shall determine what portion of the amount it sets aside for conservation improvement will be used for conservation improvements under subdivision 2 and what portion it will contribute to the energy and conservation account established in subdivision 2a. A public utility may propose to the commissioner to designate that all or a portion of funds contributed to the account established in subdivision 2a be used for research and development projects that can best be implemented on a statewide basis. Contributions must be remitted to the commissioner by February 1 of each year. Nothing in this subdivision prohibits a public utility from spending or investing for energy conservation improvement more than required in this subdivision.
Subd. 1b. Conservation improvement by cooperative association or municipality. (a) This subdivision applies to:
(1) a cooperative electric association that provides retail service to its members;
(2) a municipality that provides electric service to retail customers; and
(3) a municipality with gross operating revenues in excess of $5,000,000 from sales of natural gas to retail customers.
(b) Each cooperative electric association and municipality subject to this subdivision shall spend and invest for energy conservation improvements under this subdivision the following amounts:
(1) for a municipality, 0.5 percent of its gross operating revenues from the sale of gas and 1.5 percent of its gross operating revenues from the sale of electricity, excluding gross operating revenues from electric and gas service provided in the state to large electric customer facilities; and
(2) for a cooperative electric association, 1.5 percent of its gross operating revenues from service provided in the state, excluding gross operating revenues from service provided in the state to large electric customer facilities indirectly through a distribution cooperative electric association.
(c) Each municipality and cooperative electric association subject to this subdivision shall identify and implement energy conservation improvement spending and investments that are appropriate for the municipality or association, except that a municipality or association may not spend or invest for energy conservation improvements that directly benefit a large electric customer facility for which the commissioner has issued an exemption under subdivision 1a, paragraph (b).
(d) Each municipality and cooperative electric association subject to this subdivision may spend and invest annually up to ten percent of the total amount required to be spent and invested on energy conservation improvements under this subdivision on research and development projects that meet the definition of energy conservation improvement in subdivision 1 and that are funded directly by the municipality or cooperative electric association.
(e) Load-management activities that do not reduce energy use but that increase the efficiency of the electric system may be used to meet 50 percent of the conservation investment and spending requirements of this subdivision.
(f) A generation and transmission cooperative electric association that provides energy services to cooperative electric associations that provide electric service at retail to consumers may invest in energy conservation improvements on behalf of the associations it serves and may fulfill the conservation, spending, reporting, and energy savings goals on an aggregate basis. A municipal power agency or other not-for-profit entity that provides energy service to municipal utilities that provide electric service at retail may invest in energy conservation improvements on behalf of the municipal utilities it serves and may fulfill the conservation, spending, reporting, and energy savings goals on an aggregate basis, under an agreement between the municipal power agency or not-for-profit entity and each municipal utility for funding the investments.
(g) At least every four years, on a schedule determined by the commissioner, each municipality or cooperative shall file an overview of its conservation improvement plan with the commissioner. With this overview, the municipality or cooperative shall also provide an evaluation to the commissioner detailing its energy conservation improvement spending and investments for the previous period. The evaluation must briefly describe each conservation program and must specify the energy savings or increased efficiency in the use of energy within the service territory of the utility or association that is the result of the spending and investments. The evaluation must analyze the cost-effectiveness of the utility's or association's conservation programs, using a list of baseline energy and capacity savings assumptions developed in consultation with the department. The commissioner shall review each evaluation and make recommendations, where appropriate, to the municipality or association to increase the effectiveness of conservation improvement activities. Up to three percent of a utility's conservation spending obligation under this section may be used for program pre-evaluation, testing, and monitoring and program evaluation. The overview and evaluation filed by a municipality with less than 60,000,000 kilowatt hours in annual retail sales of electric service may consist of a letter from the governing board of the municipal utility to the department providing the amount of annual conservation spending required of that municipality and certifying that the required amount has been spent on conservation programs pursuant to this subdivision.
(h) The commissioner shall also review each evaluation for whether a portion of the money spent on residential conservation improvement programs is devoted to programs that directly address the needs of renters and low-income persons unless an insufficient number of appropriate programs are available. For the purposes of this subdivision and subdivision 2, "low-income" means an income at or below 50 percent of the state median income.
(i) As part of its spending for conservation improvement, a municipality or association may contribute to the energy and conservation account. A municipality or association may propose to the commissioner to designate that all or a portion of funds contributed to the account be used for research and development projects that can best be implemented on a statewide basis. Any amount contributed must be remitted to the commissioner by February 1 of each year.
(j) A municipality may spend up to 50 percent of its required spending under this section to refurbish an existing district heating or cooling system. This paragraph expires July 1, 2007.
Subd. 1c. Energy-saving goals. 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.
Subd. 1d. Cooperative conservation investment increase phase-in. The increase in required conservation improvement expenditures by a cooperative electric association that results from the amendments in Laws 2001, chapter 212, article 8, section 6, to subdivision 1b, paragraph (a), clause (1), must be phased in as follows:
(1) at least 25 percent shall be effective in year 2002;
(2) at least 50 percent shall be effective in year 2003;
(3) at least 75 percent shall be effective in year 2004; and
(4) all of the increase shall be effective in year 2005 and thereafter.
Subd. 2. Programs. (a) The commissioner may require public utilities to make investments and expenditures in energy conservation improvements, explicitly setting forth the interest rates, prices, and terms under which the improvements must be offered to the customers. The required programs must cover no more than a four-year period. Public utilities shall file conservation improvement plans by June 1, on a schedule determined by order of the commissioner, but at least every four years. Plans received by a public utility by June 1 must be approved or approved as modified by the commissioner by December 1 of that same year. The commissioner shall give special consideration and encouragement to programs that bring about significant net savings through the use of energy-efficient lighting. The commissioner shall evaluate the program on the basis of cost-effectiveness and the reliability of technologies employed. The commissioner's order must provide to the extent practicable for a free choice, by consumers participating in the program, of the device, method, material, or project constituting the energy conservation improvement and for a free choice of the seller, installer, or contractor of the energy conservation improvement, provided that the device, method, material, or project seller, installer, or contractor is duly licensed, certified, approved, or qualified, including under the residential conservation services program, where applicable.
(b) The commissioner may require a utility to make an energy conservation improvement investment or expenditure whenever the commissioner finds that the improvement will result in energy savings at a total cost to the utility less than the cost to the utility to produce or purchase an equivalent amount of new supply of energy. The commissioner shall nevertheless ensure that every public utility operate one or more programs under periodic review by the department.
(c) Each public utility subject to subdivision 1a may spend and invest annually up to ten percent of the total amount required to be spent and invested on energy conservation improvements under this section by the utility on research and development projects that meet the definition of energy conservation improvement in subdivision 1 and that are funded directly by the public utility.
(d) A public utility may not spend for or invest in energy conservation improvements that directly benefit a large electric customer facility for which the commissioner has issued an exemption pursuant to subdivision 1a, paragraph (b). The commissioner shall consider and may require a utility to undertake a program suggested by an outside source, including a political subdivision or a nonprofit or community organization.
(e) The commissioner may, by order, establish a list of programs that may be offered as energy conservation improvements by a public utility, municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or other entity providing conservation services pursuant to this section. The list of programs may include rebates for high-efficiency appliances, rebates or subsidies for high-efficiency lamps, small business energy audits, and building recommissioning. The commissioner may, by order, change this list to add or subtract programs as the commissioner determines is necessary to promote efficient and effective conservation programs.
(f) The commissioner shall ensure that a portion of the money spent on residential conservation improvement programs is devoted to programs that directly address the needs of renters and low-income persons, in proportion to the amount the utility has historically spent on such programs based on the most recent three-year average relative to the utility's total conservation spending under this section, unless an insufficient number of appropriate programs are available.
(g) A utility, a political subdivision, or a nonprofit or community organization that has suggested a program, the attorney general acting on behalf of consumers and small business interests, or a utility customer that has suggested a program and is not represented by the attorney general under section 8.33 may petition the commission to modify or revoke a department decision under this section, and the commission may do so if it determines that the program is not cost-effective, does not adequately address the residential conservation improvement needs of low-income persons, has a long-range negative effect on one or more classes of customers, or is otherwise not in the public interest. The commission shall reject a petition that, on its face, fails to make a reasonable argument that a program is not in the public interest.
(h) The commissioner may order a public utility to include, with the filing of the utility's proposed conservation improvement plan under paragraph (a), the results of an independent audit of the utility's conservation improvement programs and expenditures performed by the department or an auditor with experience in the provision of energy conservation and energy efficiency services approved by the commissioner and chosen by the utility. The audit must specify the energy savings or increased efficiency in the use of energy within the service territory of the utility that is the result of the spending and investments. The audit must evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the utility's conservation programs.
(i) Up to three percent of a utility's conservation spending obligation under this section may be used for program pre-evaluation, testing, and monitoring and program audit and evaluation.
Subd. 2a. Energy and conservation account. The commissioner must deposit money contributed under subdivisions 1a and 1b in the energy and conservation account in the general fund. Money in the account is appropriated to the department for programs designed to meet the energy conservation needs of low-income persons and to make energy conservation improvements in areas not adequately served under subdivision 2, including research and development projects included in the definition of energy conservation improvement in subdivision 1. Interest on money in the account accrues to the account. Using information collected under section 216C.02, subdivision 1, paragraph (b), the commissioner must, to the extent possible, allocate enough money to programs for low-income persons to assure that their needs are being adequately addressed. The commissioner must request the commissioner of finance to transfer money from the account to the commissioner of education for an energy conservation program for low-income persons. In establishing programs, the commissioner must consult political subdivisions and nonprofit and community organizations, especially organizations engaged in providing energy and weatherization assistance to low-income persons. At least one program must address the need for energy conservation improvements in areas in which a high percentage of residents use fuel oil or propane to fuel their source of home heating. The commissioner may contract with a political subdivision, a nonprofit or community organization, a public utility, a municipality, or a cooperative electric association to implement its programs. The commissioner may provide grants to any person to conduct research and development projects in accordance with this section.
Subd. 2b. Recovery of expenses. The commission shall allow a utility to recover expenses resulting from a conservation improvement program required by the department and contributions to the energy and conservation account, unless the recovery would be inconsistent with a financial incentive proposal approved by the commission. In addition, a utility may file annually, or the Public Utilities Commission may require the utility to file, and the commission may approve, rate schedules containing provisions for the automatic adjustment of charges for utility service in direct relation to changes in the expenses of the utility for real and personal property taxes, fees, and permits, the amounts of which the utility cannot control. A public utility is eligible to file for adjustment for real and personal property taxes, fees, and permits under this subdivision only if, in the year previous to the year in which it files for adjustment, it has spent or invested at least 1.75 percent of its gross revenues from provision of electric service, excluding gross operating revenues from electric service provided in the state to large electric customer facilities for which the commissioner has issued an exemption under subdivision 1a, paragraph (b), and 0.6 percent of its gross revenues from provision of gas service, excluding gross operating revenues from gas services provided in the state to large electric customer facilities for which the commissioner has issued an exemption under subdivision 1a, paragraph (b), for that year for energy conservation improvements under this section.
Subd. 3. Ownership of energy conservation improvement. An energy conservation improvement made to or installed in a building in accordance with this section, except systems owned by the utility and designed to turn off, limit, or vary the delivery of energy, are the exclusive property of the owner of the building except to the extent that the improvement is subjected to a security interest in favor of the utility in case of a loan to the building owner. The utility has no liability for loss, damage or injury caused directly or indirectly by an energy conservation improvement except for negligence by the utility in purchase, installation, or modification of the product.
Subd. 4. Federal law prohibitions. If investments by public utilities in energy conservation improvements are in any manner prohibited or restricted by federal law and there is a provision under which the prohibition or restriction may be waived, then the commission, the governor, or any other necessary state agency or officer shall take all necessary and appropriate steps to secure a waiver with respect to those public utility investments in energy conservation improvements included in this section.
Subd. 5. Efficient lighting program. (a) Each public utility, cooperative electric association, and municipal utility that provides electric service to retail customers shall include as part of its conservation improvement activities a program to strongly encourage the use of fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps. The program must include at least a public information campaign to encourage use of the lamps and proper management of spent lamps by all customer classifications.
(b) A public utility that provides electric service at retail to 200,000 or more customers shall establish, either directly or through contracts with other persons, including lamp manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers and local government units, a system to collect for delivery to a reclamation or recycling facility spent fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps from households and from small businesses as defined in section 645.445 that generate an average of fewer than ten spent lamps per year.
(c) A collection system must include establishing reasonably convenient locations for collecting spent lamps from households and financial incentives sufficient to encourage spent lamp generators to take the lamps to the collection locations. Financial incentives may include coupons for purchase of new fluorescent or high-intensity discharge lamps, a cash back system, or any other financial incentive or group of incentives designed to collect the maximum number of spent lamps from households and small businesses that is reasonably feasible.
(d) A public utility that provides electric service at retail to fewer than 200,000 customers, a cooperative electric association, or a municipal utility that provides electric service at retail to customers may establish a collection system under paragraphs (b) and (c) as part of conservation improvement activities required under this section.
(e) The commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency may not, unless clearly required by federal law, require a public utility, cooperative electric association, or municipality that establishes a household fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamp collection system under this section to manage the lamps as hazardous waste as long as the lamps are managed to avoid breakage and are delivered to a recycling or reclamation facility that removes mercury and other toxic materials contained in the lamps prior to placement of the lamps in solid waste.
(f) If a public utility, cooperative electric association, or municipal utility contracts with a local government unit to provide a collection system under this subdivision, the contract must provide for payment to the local government unit of all the unit's incremental costs of collecting and managing spent lamps.
(g) All the costs incurred by a public utility, cooperative electric association, or municipal utility for promotion and collection of fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps under this subdivision are conservation improvement spending under this section.
Subd. 6. Renewable energy research. (a) A public utility that owns a nuclear generation facility in the state shall spend five percent of the total amount that utility is required to spend under this section to support basic and applied research and demonstration activities at the University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment for the development of renewable energy sources and technologies. The utility shall transfer the required amount to the University of Minnesota on or before July 1 of each year and that annual amount shall be deducted from the amount of money the utility is required to spend under this section. The University of Minnesota shall transfer at least ten percent of these funds to at least one rural campus or experiment station.
(b) Research funded under this subdivision shall include:
(1) development of environmentally sound production, distribution, and use of energy, chemicals, and materials from renewable sources;
(2) processing and utilization of agricultural and forestry plant products and other bio-based, renewable sources as a substitute for fossil-fuel-based energy, chemicals, and materials using a variety of means including biocatalysis, biorefining, and fermentation;
(3) conversion of state wind resources to hydrogen for energy storage and transportation to areas of energy demand;
(4) improvements in scalable hydrogen fuel cell technologies; and
(5) production of hydrogen from bio-based, renewable sources; and sequestration of carbon.
(c) Notwithstanding other law to the contrary, the utility may, but is not required to, spend more than two percent of its gross operating revenues from service provided in this state under this section or section 216B.2411.
(d) This subdivision expires June 30, 2008.
HIST: 1980 c 579 s 18; 1980 c 614 s 123; 1981 c 356 s 182,248; 1982 c 561 s 4; 1983 c 179 s 6-8; 1989 c 338 s 2,3; 1991 c 235 art 1 s 2; 1992 c 478 s 2,3; 1993 c 249 s 31; 1994 c 483 s 1; 1994 c 641 art 3 s 1; art 4 s 4; 1994 c 644 s 3; 1998 c 273 s 11; 1998 c 350 s 1; 1999 c 140 s 2-7; 2001 c 212 art 8 s 4-7,12; 1Sp2001 c 4 art 6 s 44-46,77; 2003 c 130 s 12; 1Sp2003 c 11 art 2 s 5; art 3 s 4; 2004 c 216 s 3; 2005 c 97 art 7 s 1,2
Official Publication of the State of Minnesota
Revisor of Statutes