Minnesota commission looks at 40%-by-2030 renewables issues

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is due at its July 11 meeting to look at what requirements it should include in its order directing all electric utilities and transmission companies covered by a Minnesota statute to participate in an integration and transmission study for future renewable energy standards.

Under state statute, the commission is required to order electric utilities and transmission companies to conduct an engineering study of the impacts on reliability and costs, including necessary transmission network upgrades, of increasing the state’s renewable energy standard to 40% by 2030, and to higher proportions thereafter while maintaining system reliability. The study must be completed and submitted to the commission by Nov. 1, 2014.

The renewable portfolio standards for the state have been 25% for most utilities by 2025 and 30% for Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) by 2025.

Section 4 directs that the electric utilities and transmission companies must complete the study under the direction of the commissioner of the state Department of Commerce. A technical review committee consisting of up to 15 individuals with experience and expertise in electric transmission system engineering, electric power systems operations, and renewable energy technology must be appointed by the commissioner, in consultation with the electric utility and transmission companies. The technical review committee will be tasked with reviewing the study’s proposed methods and assumptions, ongoing work, and preliminary results, commission staff noted in a July 3 briefing paper.

As part of the planning process the electric utilities and transmission companies need to collaborate with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and encourage the integration of Minnesota’s planning work and other regional considerations into MISO’s future transmission expansion planning work.

The statute defines an electric utility as “a public utility providing electric service, a generation and transmission cooperative electric association, a municipal power agency, or a power district.” It defines a transmission company as “persons, corporations, or other legal entities and their lessees, trustees, and receivers, engaged in the business of owning, operating, maintaining, or controlling in this state equipment or facilities for furnishing electric transmission service in Minnesota, but does not include public utilities, municipal electric utilities, municipal power agencies, cooperative electric associations, or generation and transmission cooperative power associations.”

Based on the statutory definitions, the commission has, in previous orders determined whatentities are subject to the Renewable Energy Standard. Staff believes the same entities are obligated under this statute, with those entities including:

  • Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency;
  • Dairyland Power Cooperative;
  • Great River Energy;
  • Interstate Power and Light;
  • Minnesota Municipal Power Agency;
  • Minnesota Power;
  • Minnkota Power Cooperative;
  • Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy; and
  • Ottertail Power.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.