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 this time or take any action on further bill credit adders.
  • Decided to shift to the Value of Solar for CSGs submitted after next year, with some tweaks to lock in the inflation adjustment, weather normalization and include location specific avoided costs. The Department of Commerce is also tasked with determining whether there should be adders to the rate based on certain locational characteristics of the CSG or type of subscribers.

CSG Development

  • Retained the ban on co-location over 1-megawatt.
  • Eliminated the material upgrade limitation on interconnection.
  • Required Xcel to develop a CSG specifically for low-income customers by March 2017. Other proposals for increasing access for low-income customers are encouraged to file at that time as well.

Timeline for Completion

  • Extended the deadline for developers to complete CSGs by requiring that CSGs achieve Mechanical Completion within 24 months of Xcel finding the application Expedited Ready.
  • Broadened day-for-day extensions to include projects involved in Independent Engineering disputes with Xcel as well as other affected projects lower in the queue.
  • Required Xcel to provide, upon applicant’s request, written confirmation of the then-current Mechanical Completion deadline for an application, accounting for applicable day-to-day extensions.
  • Modified the definition of Force Majeure in the CSG tariff to extend the 24-month deadline by 6 months where there is a local government moratorium that prevents a CSG from obtaining a local permit, but excludes from the extension failure to seek a permit or other permitting delays.
  • Required projects that have been deemed complete but not expedited ready to become expedited ready in 60 days.

The MPUC declined to take action on consumer protection issues, such as how disclosures must be conveyed to subscribers, and will consider those issues at a later date.