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S.F. No. 488 - Regulation of Community Solar Garden Program
Author: Senator David J. Osmek
Prepared By: Carlon D. Fontaine, Senate Counsel (651/296-4395)
Date: February 18, 2019


Section 1 [Community solar gardens] amends the statute governing community solar gardens to make technical corrections and add additional elements that must be included with any community solar garden plans approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) after the effective date of the bill.

Paragraph (d) deletes a reference to the Made in Minnesota solar incentive program, which was repealed in 2017.

Paragraph (e) lists additional elements to be included with any community solar garden plans approved by the PUC. The additional elements include:

  • certification that estimates of the annual generation of electricity by the community solar garden and the length of time to fully recover a subscriber’s initial lump-sum payments are contained in promotional materials. Requires the estimates to be provided to prospective subscribers at least 15 days prior to the date a contract is entered into by the subscriber and the community solar garden owner;
  • certification that the utility and the solar garden owner submit copies of marketing and promotional material and sample contracts to the PUC;
  • certification that the solar garden owner has placed sufficient financial resources into an escrow account to reimburse subscribers for financial losses incurred if the project fails;
  • requiring a mechanism for subscribers to transfer subscriptions to other new or current subscribers, or to cancel subscriptions for a full refund;
  • requiring a solar garden owner and the utility purchasing electricity generated by the solar garden to forward customer complaints to the PUC;
  • requiring that the contract between a subscriber and the solar garden owner contains a warranty for a minimum level of electricity to be delivered to the subscriber from the community garden; and
  • reflecting the PUC's determination that the plan is financially viable; and the contract between a subscriber and the solar garden owner is fair, reasonable, and not discriminatory.

Paragraph (h) requires the PUC, by July 30, 2019, to develop a formula to estimate the annual amount of electricity generated by a solar garden and another formula to estimate the length of time required to fully recover a subscriber's up front lump-sum payments.  

[Effective date] makes the changes applicable to any plan submitted to the PUC for approval on or after the effective date.


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