Buy Local Wind From Your Utility

Date: 5 May 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

A bill in Minnesota’s state legislature would require utilities to offer a green pricing program for local, distributed wind power.  The largest investor-owned utility in the state already offers Windsource, a program to buy blocks of wind power at a premium price.  The law would essentially require Xcel to offer a “Local Windsource” option for ratepayers.

Under the proposed law, projects supported by “Local Windsource” would have to be 25 megawatts or smaller, located in Minnesota, and owned by Minnesota residents.  Only ratepayers that opt in would financially support the program:

2.7    Subd. 2a. Local wind energy rate option. (a) Each utility shall offer its customers
2.8
one or more options allowing a customer to determine that a certain amount of electricity
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generated or purchased on the customer’s behalf is from wind energy conversion systems
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that meet the following criteria:
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(1) have a nameplate capacity of 25 megawatts or less, as determined by the
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commissioner of commerce;
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(2) are owned by Minnesota residents individually or as members of a Minnesota
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limited liability company organized under chapter 322B and formed for the purpose of
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developing the wind energy conversion system project;
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(3) the term of a power purchase agreement extends at least 20 years; and
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(4) the wind energy conversion system is located entirely within Minnesota.
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(b) Each utility shall file a plan with the commission by October 1, 2011, to
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implement paragraph (a).
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(c) Each utility offering a rate under this subdivision shall advertise the offer with
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each billing to customers.
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(d) Rates charged to customers for energy acquired under this subdivision must be
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calculated using the utility’s cost of acquiring the energy for the customer and must be
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distributed on a per-kilowatt hour basis among all customers who choose to participate
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in the program.

The bill hasn’t even had a hearing, but it’s an interesting proposal for increasing the generation of local, distributed wind and its attendant economic benefits.

Photo credit: Flickr user scelis

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John Farrell
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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.