At the 2021 Annual Membership meeting members heard from Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director of the Customers First Coalition. Kristin spoke to the members about Senate Bill 490

Gilkes explained that the bill would authorize community solar programs that could be developed outside of the normal scheme of utility regulation. This would disadvantage the non-participating utility customers who would see their utility bills increase to subsidize those who participate in this unregulated program. She noted that “our neighbors in Minnesota are currently experiencing this preventable disparity.”

To contact your legislator, and let your legislators know that you are not in support of Senate Bill 490:

  1. Click here for "Find Your Legislator", enter your address in the top right search field.
  2. Tell your legislator you do NOT support Senate Bill 490.

SB490 Bill: Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill authorizes the establishment of community solar programs through which retail electric customers may subscribe to a community solar facility and receive credits to their electric bills for electricity produced by the facility. Under the bill, entities called subscriber organizations may own or operate community solar facilities, which use solar energy to produce electricity and are connected to the electric distribution grid. Retail electric customers may enter into a contract (subscription) with a subscriber organization through which the customers receive credits towards their electric bill based on their subscriptions. A subscriber and the community solar facility to which the subscriber subscribes must be located within the service territory of the same electric utility. In addition, a subscriber may not receive an annual value of bill credits that exceeds the subscriber's average annual electric bill. Also, under the bill, subscribers may not receive any state subsidy for which generating electricity from a renewable energy resource is a criteria for eligibility nor may subscribers receive any payment or other benefit from a tax incremental district.

The bill requires an electric utility whose service territory includes subscribers to a community solar facility to credit the electric bills of the subscribers based on their subscriptions. Also, under the bill, at the time that an electric utility files tariffs with the Public Service Commission, the electric utility must include options in the tariffs that allow subscribers to receive bill credits for subscriptions to community solar facilities. The PSC must promulgate rules allowing for establishment of community solar facilities and for subscribers to receive electric bill credits for their subscriptions. The PSC must also establish a rate used to calculate the amount of bill credits that subscribers receive, and the rate must be set at a level that results in robust community solar facility development and all customer classes having access to subscriptions to community solar facilities. Under the bill, the PSC's community solar program rules must also satisfy various other requirements, including that the rules must modify existing interconnection standards, fees, and processes to facilitate interconnection of community solar facilities with the electric distribution grid and allow electric utilities to recover costs of applying credits to subscribers' bills. The bill also provides that new community solar facilities may not be established after June 30, 2031.

The bill also specifies that community solar facilities are subject to the zoning ordinances applicable to the parcels on which they are located. Also under the bill, a municipality may not grant an exception to its zoning ordinance if the exception would authorize the installation of a community solar facility unless the exception is approved by a two-thirds vote of the governing body of the municipality.

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