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Value of Solar from Community Solar Gardens

News from Community Power

The PUC adopted a “Value of Solar” rate for Community Solar Gardens subscribers, effective 1/1/2017. This is supposed to increase pricing transparency and reduce risk for subscribers.

The PUC had previously made the Value of Solar rate optional, but Xcel Energy chose not to use it. Subscribers to community solar projects already in the application queue before 2017 will be compensated at today’s Applicable Retail Rates.

While the current "Value of Solar" provides lower compensation to Community Solar Garden subscribers than today’s rates, this PUC ruling is less damaging than the 3 to 4 cents/ KWh Xcel Energy was proposing, which was not high enough to support residential participation in Community Solar.

The PUC has instructed the Department of Commerce (DOC) to come up with plan for a “residential adder” and a “low income adder” (basically an addition of several cents per kilowatt hour to the compensation given to subscribers) to the Value of Solar rates in order for Minnesota’s Community Solar Program to fulfill its legislative intent of accessibility.

Their deadline for this is March 1, 2017. Yet another delay for getting more solar online in Minnesota.

This delay is certainly disappointing, but the options that would open up access and affordability for low-income residents are still all on the table.

What comes next?

Xcel is required to come up with a proposal by March 1st to build their own Community Solar project specifically for low-income subscribers based on the testimony provided this month.

What you can do now:

While they did not reject any core ideas on strengthening low-income access to community solar, the PUC essentially punted any decision on equity & access goals to March 1st. In that time, we can strengthen partnerships and education around On-Bill-Repayment, which would make solar and home energy improvements dramatically more accessible to low and middle income.

Sign the Energy Equity Petition!