Category: Community Solar

Welcome to the Stoel Rives Community Solar blog topic page!

Archived here are all our posts covering U.S. community solar developments, with particular emphasis on the Minnesota solar community garden program (disclaimer, we have and continue to represent clients in the MnPUC community solar garden docket).

Our lead authors on community solar are:

Brian Nese | Andrew Moratzka | Sara Bergan | Adam Schurle | Emma Fazio

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Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Some Changes to Community Solar Program, Declines Other Changes

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved several major changes to Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden (CSG) program yesterday, while also voting to maintain other aspects of the CSG program. Mike Hughlett of the Star Tribune has this report. The MPUC’s decisions are summarized below: Bill Credit Rate Declined to modify the Applicable Retail Rate at … Continue Reading

MN Court of Appeals Upholds PUC’s Community Solar Order

The Minnesota Court of Appeals filed its decision today affirming the Public Utilities Commission’s August 6, 2015 Order in the community solar garden proceeding, which adopted the partial settlement agreement between certain solar developers and Xcel Energy and decided several crucial aspects of Xcel’s community solar program, including the 5 MW cap on co-located gardens.  … Continue Reading

Developer Requests Clarification of Minnesota PUC’s Community Solar Garden Order

Minnesota solar developer SolarStone Partners, LLC filed a Motion for Clarification of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s September 2014 Order Approving Solar-Garden Plan with Modifications. Specifically, SolarStone is requesting clarification of the Commission’s interpretation of the requirement in the Community Solar Garden Statute that a project must be located within the utility’s service territory. One … Continue Reading

Oregon legislators pass historic renewable energy bill, with 50% RPS and coal-fired electricity phaseout

Oregon legislators passed Senate Bill (SB) 1547 into law yesterday, creating aggressive timetables for eliminating coal-fired electricity from the State and setting a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2040. A diverse group of utilities, consumer advocacy organizations, and renewable energy advocates support the bill.  Next stop for SB 1547 is Oregon Governor Katherine Brown’s … Continue Reading

All Sides Agree on Maine’s Replacement of Net Energy Metering

Maine appears poised to replace its net-energy metering (NEM) program with new legislation that is projected to increase the state’s solar photovoltaics (PV) penetration by over 12 times the current installed capacity by 2022. The legislation has the support of a broad coalition of consumer advocates, utilities, solar installers and environmental advocates, by contrast to … Continue Reading

Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden Tariff Final this Friday

*Update: Xcel has now filed its revised tariff (pdf) The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission published its Order (pdf) Tuesday approving Xcel Energy’s revised tariff for its Community Solar Garden Program contingent on certain changes being made. After Xcel Energy filed its tariff following programmatic changes made by the Commission earlier in the year, several parties objected … Continue Reading

Solar Electric Power Assoc. Releases Community Solar Report

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recently released a Community Solar Program Design Models report as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Market Pathways program. The report is a resource for anyone interested in community solar, but is particularly useful to those involved in developing a community solar program in their community. The report details … Continue Reading

Xcel Energy Reports Few New Community Solar Garden Applications

Xcel Energy filed its December Report on the Community Solar Gardens Program this week, announcing that 13 projects totaling 43 MW have entered into the design and construction phase. Xcel also reports that it has received “few additional applications” since the spike in applications in September. There are currently 801 applications in the interconnection queue and … Continue Reading

Xcel Energy Reports 24 Community Solar Garden Projects are Beginning Construction

Xcel Energy filed its monthly report for the Community Solar Garden program with the Public Utilities Commission last week, revealing that 24 projects are moving to the beginning stages of construction. Xcel also reports that, “after receiving over 600 applications in the surge to submit co-located projects, the pace has slowed considerably.” There are currently … Continue Reading

Citing Costs and Timing, PUC Denies Xcel Energy’s Request for Contested Case

During a public hearing yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission denied Xcel Energy’s request for a contested case hearing for the next stage of developing the Minnesota Community Solar Garden Program (the “CSG Program”). Instead, the PUC decided to proceed with the notice and comment process similar to the previously utilized process for the CSG Program. … Continue Reading

Xcel Delivers Final – For Now – Community Solar Garden Program Rules

Xcel filed its revised tariff for the Community Solar Garden Program yesterday, in compliance with and response to the Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s August 6, 2015 and October 15, 2015 orders. The revised tariff contains numerous changes to Xcel’s September 15, 2015 draft tariff proposal, a few of which are highlighted below.  Xcel clarified that … Continue Reading

MPUC Sets Community Solar Tariff Schedule and Clarifies Previous Order

On Thursday, October 15, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) released an order addressing several issues in the Community Solar Garden Program proceeding. The order requires Xcel to file compliance tariffs for the program within five days, and the MPUC will order that the tariffs become effective seven days after filing, “unless the Department or another … Continue Reading

Community Solar Update: PV Magazine and Solar Industry Magazine

Community solar (“CSG”) is the topic of two articles we authored in the September editions of PV Magazine and Solar Industry Magazine. Titled “Care in the Community” (PV Magazine) and “Proof of Concept: Community Solar is Ready to Soar Despite Complications” (Solar Industry Mag), the articles consider the launch of The National Community Solar Partnership … Continue Reading

IRS Opens Door for Community Solar Investors to Qualify for Federal Tax Credits

The Internal Revenue Service issued a private letter ruling this week to an individual owner of solar panels installed in an off-site net-metered community solar garden.  In the Ruling, the Service confirmed the individual’s eligibility to claim the residential income tax credit for 30 percent of qualified solar electric property expenditures pursuant to Section 25D … Continue Reading

Minnesota Community Solar Gardens Forecast: Partly Sunny with a Chance of Rain

Within days of its open on December 12, 2014, Xcel Energy’s Minnesota Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program had well over 300 MW worth of CSG applications submitted and by this writing nearly 430 MW.  The rush of significant application creates a question of “who’s in line first?”  That was the question before the Minnesota Public … Continue Reading

To Need or Not to Need, that is the Question: MN PUC Answers in the Affirmative

On Monday, the MN PUC addressed whether ‘tis nobler in the pocketbook to suffer the slings and arrows of the MISO market or to invest in new generating units against a sea of uncertainty. As we noted in prior blogs, the MN PUC initiated the competitive process seeking bids to meet a claimed capacity need … Continue Reading

Xcel Announces Launch Date for its Community Solar Garden Program

Xcel announced this morning that it plans to open its Community Solar Garden program next Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM CST. In its filing, the company attempts to clarify the “first-ready, first-served” application process it plans to follow. The company explains that Garden operators can view a time stamp marking when the application … Continue Reading

Minnesota Community Solar Garden Program Approved, Set to Open

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission today issued its long-awaited Order approving (with modifications) Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program – Solar Rewards*Community.  The Order starts the clock for the program to open no later than 90 days from issuance of the Order (mid-December) and officially plows the furrow for community solar projects in Minnesota.  It … Continue Reading

Value-of-Solar is Delayed; Minnesota Community Solar Gardens Move Forward

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”) approved Xcel Energy’s first Minnesota-based Community Solar Garden (CSG) program. After Xcel’s initial program filing was rejected by the MPUC in April, Xcel filed a revised CSG tariff with the MPUC in June. In a related filing, Xcel also argued that a  value of solar (“VOS”) rate for … Continue Reading

City of Palo Alto Issues Community Solar RFP

On July 1, 2014, the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to create a CPAU-branded Community Solar Program. According to CPAU, "the primary objectives for the program are 1) to help facilitate reaching the City’s target of meeting 4% of its energy needs from local solar energy by 2023 (from 0.7% in 2013), … Continue Reading

Value of Solar Achieves a New Dawn in Minnesota

Yesterday afternoon, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the methodology for calculating value of solar (VOS) tariffs in Minnesota as developed by the Department of Commerce. In doing so, Minnesota became the first in the nation to adopt a VOS tariff methodology. The Commission was required by statute to take action on the VOS calculation … Continue Reading

Xcel Announces 150 MW Solar RFP

This morning, Xcel Energy announced plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 150 MW of solar energy generation. Xcel included its RFP plans in a filing submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) outlining its strategy for complying with Minnesota’s new solar energy standard. The standard requires that public utilities like Xcel … Continue Reading

Initial Rate for Minnesota Community Solar Gardens Set (Almost)

After a full day of hearing arguments on Xcel’s proposed Community Solar Garden (CSG) program (see more on that here), the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission deliberated in public on the issue yesterday and made some important modifications to Xcel’s proposal. The program would allow Xcel customers to invest in off-site solar facilities and receive bill … Continue Reading

Viewpoints Diverge on the Value of Solar in Minnesota

Final comments were filed yesterday on the proposed methodology for calculating a value of solar (VOS) rate for utilities in Minnesota (more on the proposed methodology is here). With the Commission required to make a decision within 60 days of January 31, 2014, parties remain in fairly wide disagreement about what is required by statute, particularly what … Continue Reading
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