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Subdivision 1.Establishment; purpose.

The utility subject to section 116C.779 must operate a program to provide financial assistance to enable schools to install and operate solar energy systems that can be used as teaching tools and be integrated into the school curriculum.

Subd. 2.Required plan.

(a) By October 1, 2021, the public utility must file a plan for the solar for schools program with the commissioner. The plan must contain but is not limited to the following elements:

(1) a description of how the public utility proposes to use incentive program money withheld from the renewable development account to provide financial assistance to schools at which a solar energy system is installed;

(2) an estimate of the amount of financial assistance that the public utility provides to a school under clause (1), and the length of time financial assistance is provided;

(3) administrative procedures governing the application and financial assistance award process, and the costs the public utility is projected to incur to administer the program;

(4) the public utility's proposed process for periodic reevaluation and modification of the program; and

(5) any additional information required by the commissioner.

(b) The public utility may not implement the program until the commissioner approves the public utility's plan submitted under this subdivision. The commissioner must approve a plan under this subdivision that the commissioner determines to be in the public interest no later than December 31, 2021. Any proposed modifications to the plan approved under this subdivision must be approved by the commissioner.

Subd. 3.System eligibility.

A solar energy system is eligible to receive financial assistance under this section if it meets all of the following conditions:

(1) the solar energy system must be located on or adjacent to a school building receiving retail electric service from the public utility and completely located within the public utility's electric service territory, provided that any land situated between the school building and the site where the solar energy system is installed is owned by the school district or the state college or university in which the school building operates;

(2) the total aggregate nameplate capacity of all distributed generation serving the school building, including any subscriptions to a community solar garden under section 216B.1641, may not exceed the lesser of one megawatt alternating current or 120 percent of the average annual electric energy consumption of the school building; and

(3) has real-time and cumulative display devices, located in a prominent location accessible to students and the public, that indicate the system's electrical performance.

Subd. 4.Application process.

(a) A school seeking financial assistance under this section must submit an application to the public utility, including a plan for how the school uses the solar energy system as a visible learning tool for students, teachers, and visitors to the school, and how the solar energy system may be integrated into the school's curriculum.

(b) The public utility must award financial assistance under this section on a first-come, first-served basis.

(c) The public utility must discontinue accepting applications under this section after all money withheld under subdivision 5 are allocated to program participants, including funds from canceled projects.

Subd. 5.Program funding.

(a) In 2022, the public utility subject to section 116C.779 must withhold $8,000,000 from the transfer made under section 116C.779, subdivision 1, paragraph (e), to pay for assistance provided by the program under this section. The money withheld under this paragraph must be used to pay for financial assistance awarded under this section and the costs to administer this section. Any money that remains unexpended on June 30, 2027, cancels to the renewable development account.

(b) The renewable energy credits associated with the electricity generated by a solar energy system installed under this section are the property of the public utility that is subject to this section for the life of the system, regardless of the duration of the financial assistance provided by the public utility under this section.

Subd. 6.Limitation.

(a) No more than 60 percent of the financial assistance provided by the public utility to schools under this section may be provided to schools where the proportion of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch Program is less than 50 percent. If, after December 31, 2024, there is an insufficient number of applicant schools to fulfill the requirements of this paragraph, the remaining amounts may be provided to any school that is otherwise eligible to receive financial assistance under this section but for the requirements of this paragraph.

(b) No more than ten percent of the total amount of financial assistance provided by the public utility to schools under this section may be provided to schools that are part of the same school district or state college or university.

(c) Paragraph (a) does not apply to a state college or university.

Subd. 7.Technical assistance.

The commissioner may provide technical assistance to schools to develop and execute projects under this section.

Subd. 8.Program information.

The public utility must provide information requested by the commissioner that the commissioner determines is necessary to complete the report required under section 216C.375, subdivision 11.

Subd. 9.Application deadline.

No application may be submitted under this section after December 31, 2025.

Official Publication of the State of Minnesota
Revisor of Statutes