FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: May 25, 2018

Contact: Liz Lucente

llucente@mnseia.org  / 763-367-0243

 

2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY FROM MINNESOTA’S SOLAR INDUSTRY

From the solar industry perspective, the 2018 legislative session was an eventful, but low impact, four months. Ultimately, Governor Dayton vetoed the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill. This bill contained several energy storage pieces of legislation that would have created a solid foundation for utility-scale energy storage in Minnesota. Specifically, this legislation would have implemented a study to determine Minnesota’s optimum level of energy storage deployment, would have resulted in several storage pilot projects and would have required Minnesota’s Investor Owned Utilities to consider energy storage in their 15-year Integrated Resource Plans. The legislation, if passed, would have facilitated a new and burgeoning sector of Minnesota’s energy economy.

However, the Omnibus Supplemental Bill also contained a last-minute change to Minnesota’s Community Solar Garden statute, which would have precluded residential customers from participating in future gardens. It may also have had other unintended consequences, putting the entire program in peril.

David Shaffer, MnSEIA’s Interim Executive Director, was content with the ultimate outcome of the omnibus bill. “We reached an agreement with the Investor Owned Utilities and several environmental organizations on the Energy Storage piece,” Shaffer said, “I am confident we can pass a great energy storage bill next year. Protecting the Community Solar Garden program was an absolute must, and we were able to protect the world’s leading Community Solar Program’s financing mechanisms.”

The session was not entirely without changes to the solar industry. Two bills passed this year that will impact the Residential and Commercial Solar sectors. The first is a change to Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program, which will increase the capacity size limit for projects from 20kW to 40kW. This means that bigger solar projects can qualify for this popular incentive program. The other bill pertains to Residential PACE financing. This bill implements a new Residential PACE program that uses lower lien priorities than typical programs but boosts consumer protection measures.

MnSEIA is hopeful that these changes will lead to more solar in Minnesota. “The new RPACE program may or may not help residential customers get the upfront financing they need. We will let you know the outcome going forward,” Shaffer said.                         

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