Some policy experts believe that in the long run Minnesota will use the Value of Solar Tariff as the rate to pay community solar subscribers for the electricity and see last weeks decision to use the Adjusted Retail Rate as a 'breather'. The PUC is taking comments from parties through October 1st and Stoel Rives attorney Sara Bergan believes there is still a lot of momentum to get VOST right and use it. You can read more in this article from Solar Industry Mag http://solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.14461
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met last Thursday (8/7/14) and the message is mixed. The good news is that they moved ahead with something called an Applicable Retail Rate (ARR) which will be paid to subscribers to a community solar garden. This is critical as community solar projects can finally start to move forward. The bad news is that many of the community solar providers testified that the uncertainty of not using the Value of Solar Tariff (VOST), which was what was supposed to be used, will cause issues such that community solar projects will have trouble finding financers. I guess we will find out when we try to find financing.
You can read more at this link http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/08/07/minnesota-regulators-side-with-utility-in-value-of-solar-case/
Per the details of the Xcel Community Solar Program
Community Solar – in very general terms Community Solar describes a situation where there is a larger centrally located solar array. Residents buy or lease the solar panels, or the power that comes from them. Their local utility purchases the electricity produced by the array, and credits the residents for their share on their electric bill.
Minnesota joined 12 other states that allow and encourage community solar when our legislation was passed last year.
It greatly expands access to solar for those who don’t own a home, and the 75% of homeowners who don’t have good enough solar access.
The programs vary from state to state so here is how it works in Minnesota.
Only Xcel is required to have a community solar program. Because it is very popular, a couple utilities, such as Tri-County electric went ahead and have installed their own ‘utility owned’ array. What we are proposing is different from Tri-county in that we will locate and work with a community solar developer to establish the array, and it will probably be owned by a 3rd party financer.
Xcel Energy filed their proposal in September of last year, and have been negotiating with the Public Utilities Commission on the final rules. These are now finally complete and projects all over the state are about to start moving forward.