(a) There is established the position of reliability administrator in the Department of Commerce. The administrator shall act as a source of independent expertise and a technical advisor to the commissioner, the commission and the public on issues related to the reliability of the electric system. In conducting its work, the administrator shall provide assistance to the commissioner in administering and implementing the department's duties under sections 216B.1612, 216B.1691, 216B.2422, 216B.2425, and 216B.243; chapters 216E, 216F, and 216G; and rules associated with those provisions and shall also:
(1) model and monitor the use and operation of the energy infrastructure in the state, including generation facilities, transmission lines, natural gas pipelines, and other energy infrastructure;
(2) develop and present to the commission and parties technical analyses of proposed infrastructure projects, and provide technical advice to the commission;
(3) present independent, factual, expert, and technical information on infrastructure proposals and reliability issues at public meetings hosted by the task force, the Environmental Quality Board, the department, or the commission.
(b) Upon request and subject to resource constraints, the administrator shall provide technical assistance regarding matters unrelated to applications for infrastructure improvements to the task force, the department, or the commission.
(c) The administrator may not advocate for any particular outcome in a commission proceeding, but may give technical advice to the commission as to the impact on the reliability of the energy system of a particular project or projects.
(a) The commissioner may select the administrator. The administrator must have at least five years of experience working as a power systems engineer or transmission planner, or in a position dealing with power system reliability issues, and may not have been a party or a participant in a commission energy proceeding for at least one year prior to selection by the commissioner. The commissioner shall oversee and direct the work of the administrator, annually review the expenses of the administrator, and annually approve the budget of the administrator. The administrator may hire staff and may contract for technical expertise in performing duties when existing state resources are required for other state responsibilities or when special expertise is required. The salary of the administrator is governed by section 15A.0815, subdivision 2.
(b) Costs relating to a specific proceeding, analysis, or project are not general administrative costs. For purposes of this section, "energy utility" means public utilities, generation and transmission cooperative electric associations, and municipal power agencies providing natural gas or electric service in the state.
(c) The Department of Commerce shall pay:
(1) the general administrative costs of the administrator, not to exceed $1,000,000 in a fiscal year, and shall assess energy utilities for those administrative costs. These costs must be consistent with the budget approved by the commissioner under paragraph (a). The department shall apportion the costs among all energy utilities in proportion to their respective gross operating revenues from sales of gas or electric service within the state during the last calendar year, and shall then render a bill to each utility on a regular basis; and
(2) costs relating to a specific proceeding analysis or project and shall render a bill to the specific energy utility or utilities participating in the proceeding, analysis, or project directly, either at the conclusion of a particular proceeding, analysis, or project, or from time to time during the course of the proceeding, analysis, or project.
(d) For purposes of administrative efficiency, the department shall assess energy utilities and issue bills in accordance with the billing and assessment procedures provided in section 216B.62, to the extent that these procedures do not conflict with this subdivision. The amount of the bills rendered by the department under paragraph (c) must be paid by the energy utility into an account in the special revenue fund in the state treasury within 30 days from the date of billing and is appropriated to the department for the purposes provided in this section. The commission shall approve or approve as modified a rate schedule providing for the automatic adjustment of charges to recover amounts paid by utilities under this section. All amounts assessed under this section are in addition to amounts appropriated to the commission and the department by other law.
Subdivisions 1 and 2 expire June 30, 2012. Subdivision 3 expires June 30, 2008.