In our work to democratize the electric grid, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and partner organizations often submit comments to Public Utilities Commissions, regulatory bodies that provide oversight of electricity markets in many states across the U.S. As part of the regulatory process, these commissions and the dockets they manage decide on everything from overall grid modernization policies to pricing of net metering policies.
Below is a summary of ILSR involvement in regulatory dockets during 2018, including comments we’ve made and articles written, in order to increase transparency and accessibility of the regulatory process. ILSR regularly files comments and tracks dockets that concern issues related to energy democracy, distributed generation, and otherwise improving access to clean energy.
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Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Docket 17-879
In July, ILSR had an opportunity to submit comments for review by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission to inform a regulatory process overseeing the rapid growth of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure that supports them that has the potential to transform Minnesota’s transportation and energy systems. We outline our recommendations that the Commission weigh the local impacts and community benefits of electric vehicles, roles of both utilities and regulatory agencies in the state’s growing electric vehicle market, and considerations for electric vehicle charging tariffs. By overseeing an open and transparent process, utility regulators can help ensure benefits from the rapid growth in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure are accessible to all Minnesotans and that the transformation and electrification of our transportation system builds local power and promotes energy democracy in communities across the state. An article summarizing our detailed comments is here.
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Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Docket 13-867
In November, ILSR submitted joint comments with partners at Community Power and Cooperative Energy Futures to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commision expressing concerns about Xcel Energy’s 2019 Value of Solar calculation used to support investments in solar in the state. The comments outline issues with the company’s assumptions and ways to improve them. An article summarizing these comments is here.
In October, ILSR joined community members and solar developers to testify at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a hearing to decide the fate of the state’s residential adder framework. This incentivize has helped broaden and support residential participation in community solar garden developments in the state. An article summarizing the Commission’s decision to extend the incentive and insights from the hearing is available here.
In April, ILSR submitted comments for review by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission in support of affordable residential access to community solar. These comments concerned a proposed residential adder framework outlined as part of the state’s community solar program and Minnesota Department of Commerce Value of Solar calculation. In response to a recent analysis submitted to the Commission by Xcel Energy, we argue the utility exaggerated costs likely to be incurred under this new framework. Our comments support those made by allies such as Cooperative Energy Futures and advocate for adder calculations that ensure financeability and broad participation among residential subscribers to the state’s community solar program. An article summarizing these comments is here.
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Distributed Generation Interconnection and Hosting Capacity
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Docket 17-777
In February, ILSR submitted comments for review by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission on the topic of Xcel Energy’s hosting capacity for distributed generation resources in Minnesota, exploring how many of these renewable energy projects the existing grid can accommodate. Building on previous research, these comments outline additional limitations of analyses by Xcel Energy to-date and suggests the Commission instead pursue an independent, third-party analysis of the utility’s grid and hosting capacity.