In 2013's successful solar omnibus bill, MnSEIA was successful in passing a new rate mechanism called the Value of Solar. The idea behind the "Value of Solar" is to develop a rate that is payable to solar facilities that is equivalent to the direct benefit that the solar facility is providing to the utility, its ratepayers and society generally. The rate is generally based on the cost the utility will avoid by having more solar (like a reduced need to get a new coal plant or gas peaker plant), the benefits that solar's distributed nature provide (like reduced electrical line losses), and environmental benefits (like reduction in SOx, NOx and CO2). The Value of Solar inputs are revised annually to ensure they are current, which in turn ensures that the rate itself is reasonably accurate at all times.
While the Value of Solar Rate is generally optional for Minnesota's utilities to adopt, both Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power have published what the Value of Solar is for their respective utilities. Both have published rates that are similar or higher than their general electric retail rates. The Value of Solar is currently only used in the context of Community Solar Gardens in Xcel Energy's service territory where it is the general rate paid to Community Solar Garden projects that were deemed complete in 2017 or later. Unless there is a change to state law, going forward the Value of Solar Rate will be the only rate provided for Xcel Energy's Community Solar Gardens.
As far as how MnSEIA has or is working on the Value of Solar this year, we are endeavouring to ensure that the rate as it impacts to Community Solar Projects is scientifically sound and correctly applied. This year we have already succeeded in bumping up the rate over Xcel's initial 2018 Value of Solar filing. The Public Utilities Commission recently required Xcel to include additional environmental values. Going forward we will be working to ensure that any locational benefit reduction numbers are scientifically sound, reasonable and are given financial benefits as opposed to reductions.