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 is not, however, clear that Xcel Energy will have the luxury of using the full 90 days for opening its CSG program- the Minnesota CSG Statute requires Xcel Energy to begin crediting subscriber accounts for each CSG within 180 days of the CSG plan’s approval. Stay tuned for additional details.

Our prior blogs provide more details on the program. We review the details of the Order below.

Application: Once applicants file their applications and deposits, Xcel has 30 days to confirm the application is complete and then another 60 days to accept or reject the application. Applicants initially need to include:

  • Contact information,
  • Garden information including system location and specifications,
  • Application fee ($1,200) and deposit ($100/kW)
  • Engineering documents, including one-line diagrams, site plan, and Interconnection Application

Applicants will have a full 24 months from Xcel’s completeness determination to complete the project and comply with several additional requirements including: proof of site control, adequate insurance, projection of subscriptions, and signed interconnection and CSG agreements.

Site: The Commission amended the definition of CSG site to specifically allow multiple 1MW CSGs to be co-located to share in distribution, construction and other costs. This revised definition will be as follows:

“Community Solar Garden Site” is the location of the single point of common coupling located at the production meter for the Community Solar Garden associated with the parcel or parcels of real property on which the PV System will be constructed and located, including any easements, rights of way, and other real-estate interests reasonably necessary to construct, operate, and maintain the garden. Multiple Community Solar Garden Sites may be situated in close proximity to one another in order to share in distribution infrastructure.

Rate: The Commission determined it was not in the public interest to approve the value of solar at this time. It will continue to build the record on what a financeable rate would look like and in the meantime use the applicable retail rates per the table below. Xcel will file a 2015 Value of Solar Calculation by March 1, 2015. If and when the Commission adopts the value of solar, it will apply to the CSG program for all future applicants.

Community Solar Rate Table

Subscribers: The Commission clarified that “subscriber” is defined as a retail customer of the Company (as opposed to being tied to a metered premise). There is no limit on how many gardens a subscriber can subscribe to so long as in total they do not exceed 120% of the energy used at the premises associated with the subscriptions.

A copy of the Order is available here (PDF)