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S.F. No. 1193 - Community Solar Garden Program Modifications
Author: Senator David J. Osmek
Prepared By: Carlon D. Fontaine, Senate Counsel (651/296-4395)
Date: February 19, 2019


Section 1 [Community solar gardens] modifies the statute governing the community solar garden program, which was enacted in 2013, by making the following changes:

Paragraph (a) requires the public utility subject to the statute (Xcel Energy) to file a new community solar garden plan for approval by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by September 30, 2019. After the new plan is approved by the PUC, the previous program would cease operations. A community solar garden application deemed complete under the prior program would continue to operate under the parameters of the previous program. The public utility would review qualified community solar garden proposals yearly. The public utility is allowed to submit qualified proposals to the program.

Paragraph (b) requires the public utility to make recommendations to the PUC, which makes the final selection of the proposals the public utility must accept. The qualified proposals with the lowest cost to the public utility's customers must be selected. The total nameplate capacity for qualified proposals selected is capped at 25 megawatts per year.

Paragraph (c) maintains the maximum amount for any one community solar garden at one megawatt, but requires the nameplate capacity of the community solar garden to be combined with the nameplate capacity of any other community solar garden that: (1) is constructed within the same 12-month period as the community solar garden; and (2) exhibits characteristics indicating a single development with the community solar garden, such as ownership structure, shared interconnection, revenue sharing arrangements, and common debt or equity financing.

Paragraph (e) eliminates the value of solar method of calculating the rate paid for energy from a community solar garden and instead allows a rate to be proposed by the public utility in their plan submitted to the PUC. The PUC is prohibited from increasing the rate from the amount contained in the proposal.

Paragraph (h) provides a definition of "qualified proposal" for purposes of the community solar garden program approved by the PUC. A qualified proposal must: (i) provide evidence the proposer is able to construct, own, and operate the community solar garden for its proposed life; (ii) deliver at least 60 percent of the energy generated by the community solar garden facility to residential customers; (iii) include a plan to seek low-income residential customers; (iv) provide a firm rate that customers of the public utility must pay for energy from the community solar garden; and (v) describe the benefits the community solar garden provides.



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