Minnesota Separates Green Pricing and RPS

Minnesota utilities with an eye to accomplish two state-mandated renewable energy actions through one effort will have to work a little harder after clarification from state regulators. Upon reconsideration, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) ruled that utilities are not permitted to count the renewable power generation used to supply voluntary customer green pricing purchases toward meeting their respective renewable energy supply objectives.

St. Paul, Minnesota – September 8, 2004 [] Minnesota distribution utilities are required by state statute to offer their customers the opportunity to purchase some or all of their energy from renewable energy sources. At the same time, Minnesota’s investor-owned electric utilities, generation and transmission cooperatives, and municipal power agencies are required to make good faith efforts to generate or otherwise secure enough electricity from qualifying renewable energy technologies to represent 10 percent of total retail electric sales by 2015. The statute requires the MPUC to supervise and facilitate these good faith efforts. In the case of green pricing programs, the MPUC determined that counting this energy toward the renewable energy objectives is not consistent with the public interest and the policies underlying the state Public Utilities Act. Given final planning permission, a Minnesota utility recently announced plans to add a large package of renewable energy projects to the grid. Xcel Energy, a major US utility operating in Minnesota and other states, issued a list of proposed renewable energy projects to the MPUC for permission review. Twenty-five renewable energy projects featuring hydroelectric, biomass, wind, solar and biofuel technologies have been selected by Xcel to receive more than $22 million from the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund. Final approval is contingent on permission from the MPUC. Xcel Energy’s renewable energy projects were proposed to specifically, and solely, satisfy Minnesota’s renewable energy objectives but not to also satisfy green pricing, or green tags programs, according to Ed Legge, with media relations for Xcel Energy. “We have reassured the commission that we’re not counting things that shouldn’t be counted,” Legge said.