Minnesota/EZ Policies

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EZ Policies for Minnesota

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Policy Place Policy Type Active Implementing Sector Summary
Agricultural Improvement Loan Program (Minnesota) Minnesota State Loan Program Yes State/Territory The Agricultural Improvement Loan Program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority (RFA) and provides loans to farmers for improvements or additions to permanent agricultural facilities. In 1995, wind-energy systems with a maximum capacity of 1 megawatt (MW) became eligible for the program.

Like Minnesota's Stock Loan Program, this is a "participation loan," where loans are made by individual financial institutions working with the RFA. The RFA has a Master Participation Agreement with over 400 financial institutions throughout the state; this agreement governs the responsibilities of the various parties in such participation loans. RFA participation is limited to 45% of the principal amount of the loan or $300,000, whichever is less. Terms for the remainder of the loan are negotiated between the participant and the lender.

The borrower must be a Minnesota resident, a Minnesota domestic family-farm corporation or a family-farm partnership. The borrower (or one of the borrowers) must be the principal operator of the farm. The borrower may not have a total net worth exceeding $444,000 (indexed for inflation). Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable $50 application processing fee.
Air Pollution Emissions and Abatement (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province A person who controls the source of an emission must notify the Pollution Control Agency immediately of excessive or abnormal unpermitted emissions, and must take immediate or reasonable steps to minimize these emissions. The regulations accompanying this legislation list ambient air quality standards for Minnesota, as well as emissions standards for stationary sources.
Alternative Energy Engineering Activity (Minnesota) Minnesota Industry Recruitment/Support Yes State/Province This statute establishes an alternative energy engineering activity to provide on-site technical assistance for alternative energy and conservation projects; develop information materials and educational programs to meet the needs of engineers, technicians, developers, and others in the alternative energy field; conduct feasibility studies when the results of the studies would be of benefit to others working in the same area; facilitate development of energy projects through assistance in finding financing, meeting regulatory requirements, gaining public and private support, limited technical consultation, and similar forms of assistance; and work with and use the services of Minnesota design professionals.
Austin Utilities - Solar Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Austin Utilities provides incentives for their residential and commercial customers to install photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating systems. Qualifying PV systems can earn 50¢ per watt; eligible solar water heating systems can earn $15 per square foot of collector area. Incentives are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Austin Utilities obtains the right to withdraw the program at any time without notice.

In order to obtain eligibility, customers must agree to a net-metering and interconnection contract with Austin Utilities. An energy audit must be performed prior to system installation and results shared with Austin Utilities.

Application forms with additional information are available on the program web site.
Bioenergy Grant Program Minnesota State Grant Program No State/Territory Note: This program is currently not accepting applications. Check the program web site for information regarding future funding opportunities.

The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $2.5 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for bioenergy grants in FY 2012. Eligible projects include:
1. Facilities that produce bioenergy, or that will produce bioenergy by June 30, 2013, including biomass-based transportation fuels, biomass-based commercial heat, industrial process heat, or electrical power.
2. Organizations that provide on-station, on-farm field-scale research and outreach, including those that develop and test crops used for bioenergy systems.
3. Non-governmental entities that provide business development services and structures for community ownership of bioenergy facilities.

Grants are limited to 50% of the total project cost, or $500,000. Applications for the third project type are limited to $150,000. Applicants must provide at least 25% of their cost match in cash. Applications for FY 2012 were due November 4th, 2011.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province The Boundary Waters Canoe Area occupies a large section of northern Minnesota, and is preserved as a primitive wilderness area. Construction and new development is prohibited. A map of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area can be found here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5130164.pdf
Brainerd Public Utilities - Renewable Incentives Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Brainerd Public Utilities offers a rebate program for customers that install solar photovoltaic systems. Rebates are $2 per watt, up to $4,000. Systems are limited to 40 kW, in compliance with Minnesota's net metering policy. For more information, contact Scott Sjolund below.
Clean Energy Resource Teams (Minnesota) Minnesota Industry Recruitment/Support Yes State/Province Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are community-based groups stemming from a state, university, and nonprofit partnership to encourage community energy planning and clean energy project development. CERTs are tasked with developing and implementing community-based energy programs, and are meant to give citizens a voice in the implementation process and provide a broad-based resource and communications network that links local, county, and regional energy efficiency and renewable energy project efforts around the state. There are seven CERT regions, covering the entire state.
Clean Water Legacy Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province This Act provides authority, direction, and resources to achieve and maintain water quality standards for groundwater and surface waters by implementing the federal Clean Water Act as well as applicable state and federal regulations. The Council aims to identify and categorize impaired waters, to offer incentives to prevent water impairment, and to support effective measures to clean up waters. The Council sets pollutant total maximum daily load (TMDL) standards for the waters of the State.
Clean Water Partnership Law (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province The main purpose of the Clean Water Partnership Law is to provide financial and technical assistance to local governments for the protection, enhancement, and restoration of surface waters. However, this law also provides a legal basis for state implementation of federal laws controlling nonpoint sources of water pollution, such as pollution from runoff or transportation.
Climate Action Plan (Minnesota) Minnesota Climate Policies Yes State/Province Recognizing the implications that global climate change may have on the economy, environment and quality of life in Minnesota, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act. The law builds on Minnesota’s nation-leading energy policies of more renewable energy, more energy savings, and lower carbon emissions, and specifies the development of a comprehensive plan to reduce Minnesota’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) was asked to help facilitate and provide technical support to a new Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG) that would prepare a Climate Mitigation Action Plan for presentation to the governor and the legislature in February, 2008.

CCS worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to create and manage the MCCAG, which began meeting in April 2007. This 56-member group, representing a vast range of public-/private-sector organizations and citizen interests, is using a stakeholder-based consensus building process to develop set of state-level policy recommendations for reducing or sequestering greenhouse gas emissions. The MCCAG will also identify opportunities to promote energy-efficient technologies and clean, renewable energy resources that will enhance economic growth.
Community Development Block Grant/Economic Development Infrastructure Financing (United States) United States Grant Program
Loan Program
Yes Federal Community Development Block Grant/Economic Development Infrastructure Financing (CDBG/EDIF) provides public infrastructure financing to help communities grow jobs, enable new business startups and expansions for existing businesses. State programs help achieve the national objective of CDBG by funding projects in which at least 51 percent of the new jobs created are made available to low and moderate income individuals. The maximum amounts awarded under the program are $1 million for new businesses locating to the state and $500,000 for existing businesses expanding in the state.
Community Wind Loan Program Minnesota State Loan Program No State/Territory The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) and the Northland Foundation have partnered to offer a revolving loan program for the development of community-based wind in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. The program is part of the Rural Energy Development Initiative, which is sponsored by the State of Minnesota. Projects must be located in the Northeast counties of Minnesota, including Koochiching, Itasca, Aitkin, Carlton, St. Louis, Lake, and Cook counties.

Loan financing is limited to early stage project development and feasibility analysis for wind projects that intend to sell electricity to an electric utility. Eligible costs include:

  • Early stage project feasibility study expenses
  • Preliminary wind resource assessments
  • Meteorological data analysis and/or related equipment costs
  • Environmental, engineering, and geotechnical analysis/consulting
  • Accounting, finance, and other professional services consulting
Interested parties should sent a letter of interest describing the project to Bonnie Hundrieser (contact information listed below).
Comprehensive Local Water Management Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province Each county is encouraged to develop and implement a local water management plan. This section sets the specifications that must be met by local plans. The status of county water plans is shown here: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/maps/Website/Land%20&%20Water/Water%20Management/County%20Water%20Plan%20Revisions.pdf See the Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act for a similar map of metropolitan water management plans.
Conservation of Biomass Fuel, Firewood (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province When trees or portions of trees usable as firewood are removed from property under the control of a public utility, pipeline company, railroad, state agency or department, or a political subdivision, that portion of the tree material that is six inches or larger in diameter shall not be destroyed by open burning or deposited in a landfill without first being offered for use to the public, subject to the approval of the landowner or landowners involved.
Control of Mississippi Headwater Lakes (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province The lakes at the headwaters of the Mississippi River are subject to joint federal and state control, and the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources is responsible for establishing a plan for the operation of dams on each of the Mississippi headwater reservoirs.
Critical Areas Act of 1973 (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This Act applies to certain areas of the state with important historic, cultural, or esthetic values, or natural systems with functions of greater than local significance. Plans for a given critical area will be determined by the local government in conjunction with either the regional development commission or the Environmental Quality Board. This Act describes permitting procedures for development activities proposed in critical areas.
Dam Construction and Maintenance (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Dams may be constructed, improved, or repaired on private, non-navigable waters subject to certain timelines; however, previously-developed hydropower mechanisms cannot be disrupted. The State may also choose to construct dams, and has oversight of other dams for environmental and safety reasons. The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources or a local government may provide a lease or development agreement for the development of hydropower on an existing structure.
Energy Planning (Minnesota) Minnesota Renewables Portfolio Standards and Goals Yes State/Province This statute affirms the State's strong interest in the development and use of renewable energy resources, minimizing fossil fuel consumption and diversifying energy sources, as well as the creation of effective energy forecasting, planning, and education programs. The statute sets the energy policy for the State, aiming for a 15 percent reduction in per capita use of fossil fuels by 2015, and for 25 percent of total energy to be derived from renewables by 2025. The commissioner of the Department of Commerce is required to monitor renewable energy development in the state, and, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, to provide an annual report to the legislature describing existing and needed electricity transmission infrastructure. The commissioner can provide grants to local governments to assist with energy planning and renewable energy development purposes. The commissioner will also develop, implement, and administer a microenergy loan program to finance community-owned or publicly owned small scale renewable energy systems or to provide loans or other aids to small businesses to install small-scale renewable energy systems.
Energy Research Project, Review (Minnesota) Minnesota Climate Policies Yes State/Province The commissioner shall continuously identify, monitor, and evaluate research studies and demonstration projects pertaining to alternative energy and energy conservation systems and methodologies, including: (1) solar energy systems for heating and cooling; (2) energy systems using wind, agricultural wastes, forestry products, peat, and other nonconventional energy resources; (3) devices and technologies increasing the energy efficiency of energy-consuming appliances, equipment, and systems; (4) hydroelectric power; and (5) other projects the commissioner deems appropriate and of direct benefit to Minnesota and other states of the upper Midwest.
Environmental Impact Statements (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province These regulations apply to any actions or projects wholly or partially conducted, permitted, assisted, financed, regulated, or approved by units of government including the federal government. When such a project or activity has the potential for significant environmental impacts, the responsible government agency must prepare a detailed environmental impact report prior to authorization. The report will be used in the decision-making process regarding the relevant action or project. Specific regulations pertaining to Environmental Impact.
Floodplain Management Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province The State aims to reduce flood damages through floodplain management, including floodplain zoning, proofing, and flood warning mechanisms; to encourage local governmental units to adopt, enforce, and administer sound floodplain management ordinances; and to coordinate federal, state, and local floodplain management practices. While major alterations and hazardous uses of floodplains are prohibited, consideration shall be given to industrial uses with a compelling reason to locate in a floodplain.
Flowage Easements (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local The governing body of a town or municipality may allow the overflow, obstruction, or impairment of a public street or other highway, or the digging of a raceway in a public street or highway if it is necessary for creating, improving, or operating a waterpower.
Forest Roads (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Proposed forest roads must be approved and designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.
Forestry Policies (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province Minnesota's forests are managed through the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. The DNR has several programs and services intended to promote the sustainable use of woody biomass:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/biomass/index.html http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/biomass/resources.html

Minnesota was the first state to develop biomass harvesting guidelines to manage the removal of woody biomass at forest operations sites. These guidelines are mandatory on all state lands and many private lands as well: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/biomass/biomassHarvestingGuidelines.pdf

The DNR publishes a quarterly newsletter covering the forest products market, including relevant information on the biomass energy industry in Minnesota: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/forestry/index.html

The DNR annually issues its Forest Resources Report, which includes discussion of the opportunity and potential for the utilization of forest residues for energy generation: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/um/forestresourcesreport_11.pdf

The University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources issued the document "2010 Outlook for Forest Biomass Availability in Minnesota", providing inventory of supplies and demand for residual woody biomass for energy generation, including social and economic impact analysis:

http://www.forestry.umn.edu/prod/groups/cfans/@pub/@cfans/@forestry/documents/asset/cfans_asset_260126.pdf
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (multi-state) Illinois
Indiana
Minnesota
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Ontario
Quebec
Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province This Act describes the management of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River basin, and regulates water withdrawals, diversions, and consumptive uses from the basin. The Act establishes a Council, which is responsible for water conservation and efficiency programs and reviewing proposed projects. Projects which may lead to new or increased water diversions are limited; exceptions are described in this statute. More information can be found on the website of the Council: http://www.glslcompactcouncil.org/
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Minnesota) Minnesota Climate Policies Yes State/Province This statute sets goals for the reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050, calculated relative to 2005 levels. These levels will be reviewed based on the climate change action plan study compiled by the commissioners of Commerce, the Pollution Control Agency, the Housing Finance Agency, and the Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Employment and Economic Development, and Transportation, and the chair of the Metropolitan Council. To facilitate these goals, the commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency shall establish a system for reporting and maintaining an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. These regulations place limits on the construction of new power plant facilities that will contribute to carbon dioxide emissions, unless such facilities demonstrate that they will also offset emissions. Some other exemptions apply. Additional regulations apply for the emissions of high-GWP greenhouse gases, including chlorofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, nitrous trifluoride, and others.
Groundwater Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province This section lists the agencies responsible for protecting groundwater in the state of Minnesota. Chapter 103H gives further procedures for protection of sensitive groundwater areas and groundwater quality monitoring.
Hazardous and Industrial Waste (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This section describes standards that must be met by facilities generating and processing hazardous and industrial waste, as well as required permits for the construction and operation of such a facility. The statute also offers support for technology development that can lead to more efficient and sustainable waste management practices. Certain waste facilities are subject to supplementary review.
Interconnection Standards (Minnesota) Minnesota Interconnection Yes State/Territory Minnesota's net-metering law, enacted in 1983, applies to all investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives. Qualifying facilities of less than 1,000 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for net metering. However, uniform interconnection regulations were not implemented when net metering was established.

In response to state legislation enacted in 2001, in September 2004 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted an order establishing generic standards for utility tariffs for interconnection and the operation of distributed-generation facilities up to 10 megawatts (MW) in capacity. The PUC standards contain technical requirements related to engineering studies, mandatory minimum insurance requirements for different sized systems, equipment certification definitions, a dispute resolution process, and standard application fees. The PUC has approved compliance tariffs filed by the state's investor-owned utilities. Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives were required to adopt a tariff that addresses the issues included in the PUC's order.

All utilities must report annually on the number of interconnected systems. The PUC has developed streamlined uniform interconnection applications and a process that addresses safety, economics and reliability issues.

In 2011, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources started a review process of all distributed generation procedures, conducting stakeholder meetings and workshops and accepting comments. Details can be found on the program web site listed above.
Intrastate Pipeline Safety (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province These regulations provide standards for gas and liquid pipeline maintenance and operating procedures, per the Federal Hazardous Liquid and Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Acts, and give the commissioner of public safety the authority to establish more stringent standard. State-specific standards can be found in the Minnesota Administrative Rules, chapter 7530.
Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) Initiative (Minnesota) Minnesota Corporate Tax Incentive Yes State/Province Minnesota’s Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) Initiative state and local tax incentives to qualified companies that expand or relocate in targeted areas outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. There are ten job zones with opportunities for manufacturing, value-added, or high-wage service businesses in over 300 communities. Qualifying businesses may be eligible for corporate franchise tax exemptions, income tax exemptions for investors, sales tax exemptions for goods used in the zone, wind energy production tax exemptions, and employment tax credits.
Lake Improvement District Law and County Lake Improvement Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local Lake Improvement Districts may be established by county boards in order to “improve the quality of water in lakes; provide for reasonable assurance of water quantity in lakes, where feasible and practicable; and to assure protection of the lakes from the detrimental effects of human activities and certain natural processes.” Lake Improvement or Conservation Districts may also authorize county boards to manage water bodies located within their jurisdiction. With proper approval, county boards may choose to construct and operate water control structures, undertake projects to divert waters, improve navigation, undertake research to determine the condition of the body of water, conduct a program of water improvement and conservation, develop and implement a comprehensive plan to prevent water pollution, and make agreements regarding the body of water.
Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local This statute establishes the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, which has the authority to set water and land use regulations for the area around Lake Minnetonka.
Litchfield Public Utilities - Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA)is a joint-action agency which generates and sells reliable electricity at wholesale to its eighteen non-profit, municipally-owned member utilities, and develops innovative products and services to help them deliver value to customers. With help from SMMPA, Litchfield Public Utilities provides incentives for its commercial and industrial customers to improve the energy efficiency of facilities. Rebates are available for qualified dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners (central and room), lighting, heat pumps (air-source and geothermal), dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and freezers. Appliances must be ENERGY STAR to qualify for the rebate, and bonus incentives are available in some cases if the old working appliance is properly recycled. Specific program details and requirements can be found on the website listed above.
Local Option - Energy Improvement Financing Programs (Minnesota) Minnesota PACE Financing Yes State/Territory Note: In 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has authority over mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, directed these enterprises against purchasing mortgages of homes with a PACE lien due to its senior status above a mortgage. Most residential PACE activity subsided following this directive; however, some residential PACE programs are now operating with loan loss reserve funds, appropriate disclosures, or other protections meant to address FHFA's concerns. Commercial PACE programs were not directly affected by FHFA’s actions, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not underwrite commercial mortgages. Visit PACENow for more information about PACE financing and a comprehensive list of all PACE programs across the country.


Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing effectively allows property owners to borrow money to pay for energy improvements. The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on the property over a period of years. Minnesota has authorized certain local governments to establish such programs, as described below. (Not all local jurisdictions in Minnesota offer PACE financing. Contact your local government to find out if it has established a PACE financing program.)

In April 2010, Minnesota enacted legislation (H.F. 2695) allowing cities (home-rule, charter or statutory), counties and towns to offer PACE financing programs that provide loans to local residents for energy conservation improvements, including certain renewable energy systems. Subsequent legislation (S.F. 3729) allows a local government to designate another authority -- referred to hereafter as the "implementing entity" -- to implement such a program. This could include a housing and redevelopment authority, economic development authority, port authority, or another entity permitted by law to exercise the powers of an authority. The authorizing laws sets a series of rules governing these local programs, but some details are left to the local government that establishes a program. Qualifying properties are defined as residential, multi-family residential, commercial, or industrial properties which would benefit from energy conservation improvements based on the results of a formal energy audit or renewable energy feasibility study.

Renewable energy is defined to include solar thermal, photovoltaic (PV), wind, and geothermal energy systems that generate electrical or thermal energy. Eligible solar thermal systems generally includes both water and space heating systems except for residential systems (1) that provide less than half of the energy used for that purpose in the home or (2) which are used to heat a hot tub or pool. All renewable energy systems must be used for on-site energy needs. Energy generated by the system may not be sold, transmitted, or distributed at retail or be used to power an off-site facility. The law appears to limit on-site generating capacity to 10 MW (the limit defined in Minn Stat. 216B.1611 describing standardized interconnection procedures). Other qualified improvements include energy efficiency measures which are permanently affixed to the property and which result in a net reduction of energy consumption, and equipment which enables electric vehicle charging.

Under the state law, implementing entities must set loan maturities at the weighted average of the useful life of improvements made to the property, not to exceed 20 years. Payments must be made in 20 equal annual installments. Interest rates are locally determined, but must be sufficient to cover program costs, including the issuance of bonds and any financing delinquencies. Loans amounts may not exceed 10% of the assessed value of the property and may include costs related to the required energy audit or feasibility study, equipment and labor costs, and performance verification. At least ten percent of the improvements financed by the program must be inspected and verified by the implementing entity. Loans must be secured with a lien against the property and must be coordinated with the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) of the utility serving the property. Implementing entities may limit the number of properties for which a qualifying owner may receive financing. Programs must be designed such that they do not prohibit the financing of all cost-effective energy improvements not otherwise prohibited by law. "Cost Effective Energy Improvements" are defined as "energy improvements that have been identified in an energy audit or renewable energy system feasibility study as repaying their purchase and installation costs in 20 years or less, based on the amount of future energy saved and estimated future energy prices.”
Implementing entities are permitted to issue revenue bonds to initially fund a program. Proceeds from loan repayments, in the form of special assessments on participating properties, will be used to service bond principal and interest. The special assessment runs with the property in the event ownership of the property changes during the term of the loan.


In November 2011, Edina City Council voted to adopt the first PACE program in Minnesota. The Edina Emerald Energy Program provides financing for commercial properties for certain efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Program guidelines can be found here.
Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Production Incentive (Minnesota) Minnesota Performance-Based Incentive Yes State/Territory Note: This program is only available to customers of one of the state's investor-owned utilities (Alliant, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power Company, Xcel Energy). Customers of a municipal utility or rural electric cooperative are ineligible for this program.


Beginning in January 2014, The Department of Commerce (DOC) will administer a state Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Production Incentive. Systems must be less than 40 kW-DC and be certified as "Made in Minnesota" (see below for details). Residential, commercial, non-profit, and multi-residential customers are eligible for the incentive. The incentive rate must be set by the Commissioner of Commerce, and will be recalculated annually for new contracts. Each incentive contract will be a 10-year term; payments will be made to the customer no later than July 1st following the year of production and RECs are transferred to the utility. The utility must provide a meter to measure the system production at the cost of the customer.


The Department of Commerce established the following incentive amounts for the 2014 calendar year:


Commercial For Profit Solar Incentive Amounts:
  • tenKsolar TKS-CXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-EXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-DXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-FXXXXXXX 190 watt, XT-A 410 Watt = $.13/kWh
  • Silicon Energy Cascade Modules SiE 150, 155, 160, 165, 170, 175, 180, 185, 190, 195, 200, 205 = $.18/kWh


Nonprofit/Government Solar Incentive Amounts:
  • tenKsolar TKS-CXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-EXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-DXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-FXXXXXXX 190 watt, XT-A 410 Watt = $.20/kWh
  • Silicon Energy Cascade Modules SiE 150, 155, 160, 165, 170, 175, 180, 185, 190, 195, 200, 205 = $.27/kWh


Residential Solar Incentive Amounts:
  • tenKsolar TKS-CXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-EXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-DXXXXXX 180 watt, TKS-FXXXXXXX 190 watt, XT-A 410 Watt = $.29/kWh
  • Silicon Energy Cascade Modules SiE 150, 155, 160, 165, 170, 175, 180, 185, 190, 195, 200, 205 = $.39/kWh

Interested customers must apply between January 1st and February 29th of each year from 2014 through 2023. At the end of the application period, the DOC will select applications at random. No systems will begin to receive payments after December 31, 2024, and no payments will be made for generation that occurs after December 31, 2033.


If the applicant pool allows, approximately half of the funds will be allocated for residential customers and approximately half will go to commercial and non-profit customers. For the purposes of this allocation, multi-family residential facilities are considered residential facilities unless the PV system exceeds 10 kW in capacity, or the output from the PV system is purchased by several residents (shared ownership).


Manufacturers interested in participating in the incentive program must apply to the DOC to be certified as "Made in Minnesota." In order to be eligible, the PV module must be manufactured at a facility located in Minnesota that is registered and authorized to manufacture in the state. Systems must be UL 1703-certified by a UL or UL-approved agency, and systems must be manufactured by a process that includes tabbing, stringing, and lamination, or must be manufactured by interconnecting low-voltage DC PV elements that produce the final useful PV output of the modules. Modules manufactured by attaching microinveters, DC optimizers, or other power electronics to a laminate or solar PV module that has received UL 1703 certification outside of Minnesota are not eligible.
Made in Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate (Minnesota) Minnesota State Rebate Program Yes State/Territory Note: This program is only available to customers of one of the state's investor-owned utilities (Alliant, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power Company, Xcel Energy). Customers of a municipal utility or rural electric cooperative are ineligible for this program.


Beginning in 2014, the Department of Commerce is offering a Made in Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate program. Rebates are 25% of installed costs, with a $2,500 maximum for residential systems, $5,000 maximum for multi-family residential systems, and $25,000 for commercial systems. Approximately half of the budget will be allocated for solar thermal hot water systems and half will be allocated for solar thermal air projects. The components of the system must be manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system must be SRCC certified.
Marginal, Erodible Land Retirement Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province It is state policy to encourage the retirement of marginal, highly erodible land, particularly land adjacent to public waters and drainage systems, from crop production and to reestablish a cover of perennial vegetation.
Methane Digester Loan Program (Minnesota) Minnesota State Loan Program Yes State/Territory Established in 1998, the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture Methane Digester Loan Program helps livestock producers install on-farm anaerobic digesters used for the production of electricity by providing zero-interest loans to eligible borrowers. The loan program is part of the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) revolving loan fund, through which farmers can receive financial aid for many different farming related activities and improvements. The general eligibility requirements for loans through the RFA are contained in Minn. Stat. § 41B.03, which permits loans only to Minnesota residents, domestic family-farm corporations, and family-farm partnerships. The methane digester loan program is specifically authorized by Minn. Stat. § 41B.049.

In order to be eligible for a Methane Digester Loan, a borrower must:


  • locate the projects and utilize the equipment and practices on land located in Minnesota;
  • provide evidence of financial stability;
  • demonstrate an ability to repay the loan;
  • provide evidence that the practices implemented and capital assets purchased will be
    properly managed and maintained; and
  • not have previously received a loan under this program
Within the Methane Digester Loan Program, the RFA may make a direct loan to the borrower or act as a participant in the loan with an eligible lender (more than 400 such approved lenders exist throughout the state). State participation is limited to 45% of the loan principal in the case of participation loans and may not exceed $250,000 for either participation or direct loans. The loan term is limited to a maximum of 10 years and repayment terms for the RFA's participation interest may differ from those of the outside lender. Loans can be used as a match for federal loans and grants, but may not be used to refinance a debt existing prior to the application.
Metropolitan Groundwater Plans (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes Local This section gives metropolitan counties the authority to prepare and adopt groundwater plans, or to grant this responsibility to soil and water conservation districts.
Metropolitan Land Use Planning (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes Local This statute establishes the Metropolitan Land Use Advisory Committee within the Metropolitan Council to coordinate plans, programs, and controls related to urbanization and development among individual governmental units in metropolitan areas. The committee is responsible for monitoring growth and urbanization patterns and open space, as well as air and water pollution and water shortages. The committee may make recommendations, adopt guidelines and procedures, and alter zoning rules.
Metropolitan Landfill Abatement Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Fees Yes State/Province A fee is imposed on operators of mixed municipal solid waste disposal facilities corresponding to the amount of waste taken in. Waste residue from recycling facilities or resource recovery facilities is exempt from this fee if there is at least an 85 percent weight reduction in the solid waste processed. The money will be used to fund the research, development, and implementation of alternative solid waste management practices and resource recovery facilities.
Midwest Independent System Operator (Multiple States) Montana
North Dakota
South Dakota
Minnesota
Iowa
Missouri
Wisconsin
Illinois
Michigan
Indiana
Kentucky
Manitoba
Interconnection Yes Non-Profit Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) is a Regional Transmission Organization, which administers wholesale electricity markets in all or parts of 11 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO administers electricity transmission grids across the Midwest and into Canada, and provides tools, transmission planning strategies, and integration for utilities in those markets. MISO is working with PJM Interconnection to develop complementing system operations and one robust, non-discriminatory wholesale electricity market to meet the needs of all customers and stakeholders in 23 states, the District of Columbia and the Canadian province of Manitoba. The market is being developed through an open stakeholder process and is being designed to serve residents regardless of whether they reside in states with bundled or unbundled retail rates.
Midwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste (Multiple States) Indiana
Iowa
Minnesota
Missouri
Ohio
Wisconsin
Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province The Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact is an agreement between the states of Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin that provides for the cooperative and safe disposal of commercial low-level radioactive waste. The Compact was enacted into law by each member state legislature during the period from 1982 through 1984, and received Congressional consent in 1985. The Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission is the administrative body of the Compact. It consists of one voting Commissioner from each of the six member states. Each state determines how it will appoint its Commissioner, and the state’s Governor must provide written notification to the Commission of the appointment of a Commissioner and any Alternate Commissioners.
Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (Multiple States) Illinois
Iowa
Minnesota
Montana
North Dakota
Ohio
South Dakota
Wisconsin
Manitoba
Green Power Purchasing Yes Non-Profit The Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS®) tracks renewable energy generation in participating States and Provinces and assists in verifying compliance with individual state/provincial or voluntary Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and objectives. M-RETS® is a tool to keep track of all relevant information about renewable energy produced and delivered in the region. Currently, several States and Provinces participate in M-RETS®: Illinois, Iowa, Manitoba, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have policies in place requiring or strongly encouraging utility development of renewable resources. M-RETS® uses verifiable production data for all participating generators and creates a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) in the form of a tradable digital certificate for each MWh.
Minnesota Environmental Coordination Procedures Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This Act is designed to streamline the review procedures for a given project that requires multiple environmental permits “by establishing a mechanism in state government which will coordinate administrative decision-making procedures, and related quasi-judicial and judicial review, pertaining to these permits.” The Act is designed to promote a better exchange of information among state agencies, as well as a faster process for project permitting.
Minnesota Peatland Protection Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Certain peatland core areas are designated as scientific and natural areas, and development is restricted. Currently, only two peatlands have been protected: the Pine Creek Peatland in Roseau County, and the Winter Road Lake Peatland in Roseau and Lake of the Woods Counties.
Minnesota Power - Solar-Electric (PV) Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Minnesota Power offers a rebate of $1,000 per kilowatt (kW) DC for grid-connected solar-electric (PV) systems, with a maximum award of $20,000 per customer or 60% installed costs per customer. This program, which began in 2004, is available to the utility's residential, commercial and industrial customers that receive retail electric service, subject to availability of funding. Originally, Minnesota Power's rebate for PV systems could be combined with the Minnesota Office of Energy Security's Solar-Electric (PV) Rebate Program; however, the state program is no longer available.

The following conditions apply to Minnesota Power's Solar-Electric Rebate Program:


  • Systems must be installed on or before December 31, 2014, and must meet the 12-month installation completion time line established by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security's Solar-Electric (PV) Rebate Program.
  • Minnesota Power's solar-electric rebate funds will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Minnesota Power to determine availability of funds.
  • Systems must be installed by a solar energy installer (see web site for further details).
  • Minnesota Power reserves the right to limit the number of rebates per installer per year.

Customers may also qualify for two different bonuses if they meet the base rebate requirements.


  • Customers that use a NABCEP-certified solar installer will receive an additional $800/kW.
  • Nonprofit or tax-exempt organizations can receive an additional $500/kW.
Application materials are available on the program web site.
Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This Act regulates the siting of large electric power generating plants, which are defined as plants designed for or capable of operating with a capacity of 50,000 kW or more. The policy of the state is to choose locations for large electric power facilities that minimize adverse human and environmental impact while insuring continuing electric power system reliability and integrity and that electric energy needs are met and fulfilled in an orderly and timely fashion. A site permit from the Public Utilities Commission is required prior to the construction of a large electric power generating facility or of a high-voltage transmission line directly associated with the power generating facility. This is the sole permit required for such construction, and it supersedes and preempts all zoning, building, or land use rules, regulations, or ordinances promulgated by regional, county, local and special purpose government. However, other state permits may be required.
Mississippi Headwaters Planning and Management (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local Construction and development is restricted and largely prohibited near the Mississippi headwaters. Land use permits must be obtained from the Mississippi Headwaters Board.
Mora Municipal Utilities - Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) is a joint-action agency which generates and sells reliable electricity at wholesale to its eighteen non-profit, municipally-owned member utilities, and develops innovative products and services to help them deliver value to customers. With help from SMMPA, Mora Municipal Utilities provides incentives for its commercial and industrial customers to improve the energy efficiency of facilities.Rebates are available for a variety of energy-efficient equipment: lighting, HVAC, replacement motors, variable speed drives, anti-sweat heater controls for cooler/freezer doors, food service equipment, and custom measures. Each type of equipment has minimum efficiency and performance ratings which must be met in order to qualify for the rebate. These requirements can be found in the forms provided on the program's website.
Municipal Electric Power (Minnesota) Minnesota Green Power Purchasing Yes Local This section describes energy procurement for local utilities operating in Minnesota and provides a means for Minnesota cities to construct and operate hydroelectric power plants. The statute gives cities the power to create a separate municipal corporation with the authority to finance and acquire facilities for the generation or transmission of electric energy.
Municipal Water Pollution Control (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This statute applies to a city, sanitary district, or other governmental subdivision or public corporation. The statute gives the Pollution Control Agency the authority to prepare and enforce a long-range plan pertaining to the prevention and mitigation of water pollution in municipal areas. The statute also sets standards for wastewater treatment facilities.
Net Metering (Minnesota) Minnesota Net Metering Yes State/Territory Note: H.F. 729, enacted in May 2013, includes many changes to Minnesota's net metering law. These changes are described above, but most will not take effect until rules are implemented at the PUC. The below summary reflects the current rules.

Minnesota's net-metering law, enacted in 1983, applies to all investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives. All "qualifying facilities" less than 40 kilowatts (kW) in capacity are eligible.* Capacity is measured based on a system's output averaged over a 15-minute interval. There is no limit on statewide capacity.

Each utility must compensate customers for customer net excess generation (NEG) at the "average retail utility energy rate," defined as "the total annual class revenue from sales of electricity minus the annual revenue resulting from fixed charges, divided by the annual class kilowatt-hour sales." This rate is basically the same as a utility's retail rate. Compensation may take the form of an actual payment (i.e., check for purchase) for NEG or as a credit on the customer's bill. For systems 40 kW to 1 MW in size, NEG will be credited at the avoided cost rate. Alternatively, a customer may elect to be compensated in the form of a kWh credit. Excess credits will be reimbursed at the end of the calendar year at the avoided cost rate.

Aggregate Net Metering

H.F. 729 requires public utilities to offer meter aggregation for customers that request it. The meter must be owned or leased by the customer requesting aggregation, and must be located on contiguous property owned by the same customer. The total aggregate of all meters is subject to the same net metering size limitations described above. “Contiguous property” means that the property shares a common border without regard to any easements, transportation right of ways, public thoroughfares, or utility right-of-ways. Utilities must comply with aggregation requests within 90 days. The aggregation of meters only applies to charges that use kWhs as the billing determinant. NEG is credited to the next monthly bill in the form of kWh credits. Utilities may request permission from the PUC to charge administrative fees for meter aggregation.

Community Solar Gardens

By September 30, 2013, Xcel Energy must file a plan with the PUC to offer a Community Solar Garden program. Other utilities may also file applications for such programs. The program must be designed to offset energy use for at least 5 subscribers, of which no single subscriber may have more than a 40% interest, and each subscription must represent at least 200 watts of the system’s generating capacity. Subscribers must be retail customers of the utility and located in the same county or a county contiguous to where the facility is located. Subscribers are compensated at the [ http://dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=MN177F&re=0&ee=0 Value of Solar Tariff] (VOST) rate (or, at the retail rate during the time before the VOST is available). Community projects may also be eligible for the solar performance based incentives offered by Xcel Energy or the Department of Commerce. The utility that offers the program may own the PV system, or another entity may own the project and net meter the electricity generated. Systems may be ground- or roof-mounted, must be located within the utility service territory, and may not exceed system capacity and generation limits that apply to all net-metered systems.

In July 2012, the Public Utilities Commission opened Docket No. E-999/CI-12-785 in order to determine the minimum amount of electricity a customer must consume on site in order to qualify for net metering.

  • The term "qualifying facility" is defined in the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). It generally includes most renewable-energy systems and combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems.
New Ulm Public Utilities - Solar Electric Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility New Ulm Public Utilities provides solar photovoltaic (PV) rebates for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. Rebates are for $1 per nameplate watt, and customers must sign a net metering and interconnection agreement with the utility. Systems must be new and sized between 0.5 kilowatts (kW) and 40 kW. Contact New Ulm Public Utilities using the contact listed below for more information.
Noise Pollution Control (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes Local These regulations set noise standards and direct municipalities to take reasonable measures to prevent the establishment of land use activities with a high noise pollution potential.
Oil and Gas Wells: Rules Relating to Spacing, Pooling, and Unitization (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province The Department of Natural Resources is given the authority to create and promulgate regulations related to spacing, pooling, and utilization of oil and gas wells. However, as of September 2012, no such rules were found.
Oil and Hazardous Substance Discharge Preparedness (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province Anyone who owns or operates a vessel or facility that transports, stores, or otherwise handles hazardous wastes must take reasonable steps to prevent the discharge of those materials.
Owatanna Public Utilities - Solar Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Owatanna Public Utilities provides incentives for their residential and commercial customers to install photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating systems. Qualifying PV systems can earn $1 per watt; eligible solar water heating systems can earn $15 per square foot of collector area.

In order to obtain eligibility, customers must agree to a net-metering and interconnection contract with Owatanna Public Utilities. An energy audit must be performed prior to system installation and results shared with OPU.

Incentives are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. OPU obtains the right to withdraw the program at any time without notice.

Application forms with additional information are available on the program web site.
Pipeline Setback Ordinance (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This statute establishes the Office of Pipeline Safety to regulate pipelines in Minnesota. Among other duties, the office is responsible for implementing a Model Pipeline Setback Ordinance.
Pipelines (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This section regulates pipelines that are used to carry natural or synthetic gas at a pressure of more than 90 pounds per square inch, along with pipelines used to carry petroleum products and coal. Special rules apply to pipelines used to carry natural gas at a pressure of more than 125 pounds per square inch. The construction of a pipeline requires a routing permit from the Public Utilities Commission, with some exceptions. Interstate gas pipelines are subject to federal law and exempt from these requirements.
Postsecondary Energy Education (Minnesota) Minnesota Workforce development Yes State/Province The commissioner of commerce, in consultation with the commissioner of education, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, shall assist in the development and implementation of adult and postsecondary energy education programs.
Princeton PUC - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) is a joint-action agency which generates and sells reliable electricity at wholesale to its eighteen non-profit, municipally-owned member utilities, and develops innovative products and services to help them deliver value to customers. With help from SMMPA, Princeton PUC provides incentives for residential and commercial customers to improve the energy efficiency of homes. Rebates are available for qualified dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners (central and room), lighting, heat pumps (air-source and geothermal), dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and freezers. Appliances must be ENERGY STAR to qualify for the rebate, and bonus incentives are available in some cases if the old working appliance is properly recycled. Customers should call Lake City Utilities for more information. Specific program details and requirments can be found on the website listed above.
Project Riverbend (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local This statute implements a comprehensive land use plan for area surrounding the Minnesota River from the city of Franklin in Renville County to Le Sueur in Le Sueur County. Construction, grading, and filling activities near the river are heavily limited by the plan.
Qualifying RPS State Export Markets (Minnesota) Minnesota Renewables Portfolio Standards and Goals Yes State/Province This entry lists the states with Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies that accept generation located in Minnesota as eligible sources towards their RPS targets or goals. For specific information with regard to eligible technologies or other restrictions which may vary by state, see the RPS policy entries for the individual states, shown below in the Authority listings. Typically energy must be delivered to an in-state utility or Load Serving Entity, and often only a portion of compliance targets may be met by out-of-state generation. In addition to geographic and energy delivery requirements, ownership, registry, and other requirements may apply, such as resource eligibility, generator vintage and capacity limitations, as well as limits on Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) vintage. The listing applies to RPS Main Tiers only, and excludes solar or distributed generation that may require interconnection only within the RPS state. This assessment is based on energy delivery requirements and reasonable transmission availability. Acceptance of unbundled RECs varies. There may be additional sales opportunities in RPS states outside the Eastern Interconnection. REC prices in markets with voluntary goals (North Dakota, South Dakota) may be lower.
Radiation Hazards Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Safety and Operational Guidelines Yes State/Province These regulations, promulgated by the Department of Health, set allowable radiation standards and mitigation practices, as well as procedures for the transportation of hazardous material.
Radioactive Waste Management (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province This section regulates the transportation and disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Minnesota, and establishes a Nuclear Waste Council to monitor the federal high-level radioactive waste disposal program. These regulations state that the construction of a radioactive waste facility in Minnesota as well as the transportation of radioactive waste for disposal into Minnesota must be expressly authorized by the Minnesota Legislature. Any geologic or hydrologic drilling activities related to disposal require a permit from the Environmental Quality Board. This section also sets allowable levels for radionuclide release into groundwater. Specific regulations regarding exploratory drilling for high-level radioactive waste disposal can be found in the Minnesota Administrative Rules, sections 4100.7900-7934, below.
Regulatory and Hydropower Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province These statutes establish the State's authority to “control and supervise activity that changes or will change the course, current, or cross section of public waters, including the construction, reconstruction, repair, removal, abandonment, alteration, or the transfer of ownership of dams, reservoirs, control structures, and waterway obstructions in public waters.” The statutes also establish that hydroelectric power generation serves a valid public purpose.
Regulatory and Wetlands Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province These statutes establish wetlands as a natural resource of public value in the State, and state that it is in the public interest to restore and preserve these wetlands and their biological diversity, as well as to avoid direct or indirect detrimental impacts. Sections 103G.221-237 discuss rules pertaining to the drainage of wetlands and access to public wetlands.
Reinvest in Minnesota Resources Law (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This statute aims to restore certain marginal agricultural land and protect environmentally sensitive areas to enhance soil and water quality, minimize damage to flood-prone areas, sequester carbon, and support native plant, fish, and wildlife habitats. The Board of Water and Soil Resources may place eligible land in the Minnesota reserve program and impose conservation standards. The statute also addresses conservation easements. Allowable development and construction is very limited on such land. Other eligible lands may be set aside for the clean energy program, as described in section 103F.518. This land will be prioritized for the development of cellulosic biofuel or bioenergy production facilities, or for development that meets other state goals or objectives.
Renewable Development Fund (RDF) (Minnesota) Minnesota Public Benefits Fund Yes State/Territory Xcel Energy's Renewable Development Fund (RDF) was created in 1999 pursuant to the 1994 Radioactive Waste Management Facility Authorization Law (Minn. Stat. § 116C.779). Originally, Xcel Energy was required to donate to the fund $500,000 annually for each dry cask containing spent nuclear fuel being stored at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant, amounting to about $9 million annually. Subsequent legislation, enacted in May 2003, extended nuclear-waste storage at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island plant and increased the amount Xcel must pay toward the development of renewable-energy resources to $16 million annually for as long as the utility's Prairie Island nuclear plant is in operation and $7.5 million for each year the plant is not in operation. This payment rate is in effect until there are 32 casks stored at the plant (scheduled to happen in 2012). Legislation passed in 2010 (S.F. 3275) will go into effect at this time, which requires Xcel to contribute $500,000 per cask annually. The current schedule for casks storage is:

2011: 27-29 casks 2012: 30-32 casks 2013: 33-35 casks 2014: 36-38 casks 2016: 39-41 casks 2017: 42-44 casks 2019: 45-47 casks In May 2007, S.F. 2096 amended Minn. Stat. § 116C.779 after Xcel petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to begin dry cask storage at Monticello, a second nuclear power plant. Under this legislation, Xcel is required to contribute $350,000 towards the fund for each dry cask storage device containing spent fuel at the Monticello plant for as long as the plant remains in operation and $5.25 million annually for each year the plant is not in operation. Xcel's petition for dry cask storage at Monticello (which continues to operate) has been approved according to the following schedule:

2008: 10 casks 2013: 20 casks 2016: 30 casks

Therefore, Xcel's annual contribution to the RDF was increased from $16 million to $19.5 million during 2008 and will increase again to appoximately $24.5 million in 2013 and $26 million in 2014.

Up to $10.9 million annually must be allocated to support renewable energy production incentives through January 1, 2021. Of this amount, $9.4 million supports production incentives for electricity generated by wind-energy systems. The balance of the $10.9 million sum (up to $1.5 million annually) may be used for production incentives for on-farm biogas recovery facilities, hydroelectric facilities, or for production incentives for other renewables. Unspent portions of this allocation from any calendar year may be used for other purposes allowed under this fund (see Funding Allocation section).


In addition to the $10.9 million annual allocation for renewable energy production incentives, 2009 Minnesota legislation required Xcel to send an additional $5 million annually to fund a grant for the University of Minnesota's University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE). However, this section of law was suspended in 2011, then in April 2012 by S.F. 2181.

Funding Allocation
Funds in the RDF account may only be used for the following purposes:

  • To increase the market penetration of renewable electric energy resources in Minnesota at reasonable costs
  • To promote the start-up, expansion, and attraction of renewable electric energy projects and companies within Minnesota
  • To stimulate in-state research and development into renewable electric energy technologies
  • To develop near-commercial and demonstration scale renewable electric projects or near-commercial and demonstration scale electric infrastructure delivery projects if those delivery projects enhance the delivery of renewable electric energy

Preference must be given to development of renewable-energy projects located in Minnesota, but a small number of projects located in other states have been funded. Renewable energy technologies eligible for funding typically include wind, biomass, solar, hydro and fuel cells. Funding is generally split between new development projects that result in the production of renewable energy, and research and development. Expenditures from the RDF may only be made after approval by order of the PUC upon a petition by the public utility.


Project Selection and Examples

The RDF is administered by the Renewable Development Board, which originally consisted of two representatives from Minnesota's environmental community, one representative from the Prairie Island Indian Community, and two representatives of Xcel Energy’s ratepayers, one representing commercial/industrial customers and one representing residential customers. However, S.F. 2181 specifies that Xcel is only required to include ratepayer representatives on the board, but may include other parties. Awards have historically been given to projects supporting the research and development of new renewable energy sources and energy production for wind, biomass, solar, hydropower, biofuels and coal gasification. Examples of the number of projects and total awards for each of the four RDF funding cycles are listed below.
  • First Funding Cycle (2001): 19 renewable energy projects awarded nearly $16 million in funding
  • Second Funding Cycle (2005): 29 renewable energy projects awarded nearly $37 million
  • Third Funding Cycle (2007): 22 renewable energy projects awarded nearly $23 million
  • Fourth Funding Cycle (2013): Applications were due April 1, 2013.
Xcel must submit an annual report to the legislature by February 15 describing the projects funded by the RDF. In addition, the projects receiving funds from the RDF must supply a written report detailing the project's financial, environmental, and other benefits.
Renewable Energy Production Incentive (Minnesota) Minnesota Performance-Based Incentive Yes State/Territory Supported by the state's Renewable Development Fund, Minnesota offers a payment of 1.5¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for on-farm biogas facilities. Previously, this incentive also offered payments to wind and hydroelectric facilities, but no new incentives are being offered for these technologies.


Hydro Facility Eligibility


Generally, the incentive is available to hydro facilities located at the site of a dam, if the dam was in existence as of March 31, 1994, and begins generating electricity after July 1, 1994 or generates electricity after substantial refurbishing of a facility that begins after July 1, 2001. In order to receive payments, qualifying hydro facilities must begin operation by December 31, 2011. The payment period for hydroelectric facilities may not extend beyond December 31, 2021.


On-Farm Biogas Facility Eligibility


On-farm biogas recovery facilities must be located at the site of an agricultural operation. Payments may be made for electricity generated from on-farm biogas recovery facilities that are operational between July 1, 2001 and December 31, 2017, though no payments may be made on electricity generated after December 31, 2015. Note that in May 2007, the Renewable Energy Production Incentive was amended to make the actual gas produced by on farm anaerobic digesters eligible to receive the incentive beginning July 1, 2007. In other words, it is no longer required that the gas be used to produce electricity. Payments may be made for gas generated from on-farm biogas recovery facilities for facilities that are operational between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2017.


Wind Facility Eligibility


Minnesota also issues a payment of 1.5¢/kWh for electricity generated by new wind-energy projects less than two megawatts (MW) in capacity. However, the program was closed to new applicants on January 1, 2005 and the in-service deadline for wind incentives expired January 1, 2008. Approximately 225 MW of small wind facilities are subscribed in the program. No payments may be made to these facilities for electricity generated after December 31, 2015.
Renewables Portfolio Standard (Minnesota) Minnesota Renewables Portfolio Standard Yes State/Territory

Minnesota enacted legislation in 2007 that created a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for Xcel Energy, created a separate RPS for other electric utilities,* and modified the state's existing non-mandated renewable-energy objective. In 2013, further legislation (H.F 729) was enacted to create a 1.5% solar standard for public utilities, a distributed generation carve-out, and a solar goal for the state. For the purpose of calculating the solar requirement, the following types of customers are not included: iron mining extraction and processing facilities, including scram mining; and paper mills, wood product manufacturers, sawmills, or oriented strand board manufacturers.

Eligible Technologies

Electricity generated by solar, wind, hydroelectric facilities less than 100 megawatts (MW), hydrogen and biomass -- which includes landfill gas, anaerobic digestion, and municipal solid waste -- is eligible for the standards and the objective. The definition of eligible biomass was refined slightly in 2008 by S.F. 2996 to include the organic components of wastewater effluent and sludge from public treatment plants, with the exception of waste sludge incineration. After January 1, 2010, hydrogen must be generated by other eligible renewables in order to be eligible.

Xcel Energy Standard

The standard for Xcel Energy requires that eligible renewable electricity account for 31.5% of total retail electricity sales (including sales to retail customers of a distribution utility to which Xcel Energy provides wholesale service) in Minnesota by 2020. Of the 31.5% renewables required of Xcel Energy in 2020, 1.5% must be met with solar PV (10% of which must be met with systems of 20 kW or less) , at least 25% must be generated by wind-energy or solar energy systems, with solar limited to no more than 1% of the requirement. In effect, this means that the wind standard is at least 24%, 1.5% must be met with solar, and solar may contribute up to another 1%, and the "remaining" 5% may be generated using other eligible technologies.

Wind energy and biomass energy contracted for or purchased by Xcel Energy pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 216B.2423 et seq. is eligible under the RPS. The RPS schedule for Xcel Energy is as follows:

  • 15% by 12/31/2010
  • 18% by 12/31/2012
  • 25% by 12/31/2016
  • 31.5% by 12/31/2020 (including 1.5% solar)

Standard for Non-Xcel Public Utilities

The standard for other public utilities requires that eligible renewable electricity account for 26.5% of retail electricity sales to retail customers in Minnesota by 2025. Of this electricity, 1.5% must be solar photovoltaics by 2020, and 10% of the solar standard must be met with systems of 20 kW or less.

  • 12% by 12/31/2012
  • 17% by 12/31/2016
  • 21.5% by 12/31/2020 (including 1.5% solar)
  • 26.5% by 12/31/2025 (including 1.5% solar)

Standard for Non-Public Utilities

The standard for other Minnesota utilities requires that eligible renewable electricity account for 25% of retail electricity sales to retail customers (and to retail customers of a distribution utility to which the one or more of the utilities provides wholesale service) in Minnesota by 2025. The RPS schedule for other Minnesota utilities is as follows:

  • 12% by 12/31/2012
  • 17% by 12/31/2016
  • 20% by 12/31/2020
  • 25% by 12/31/2025

 

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

The 2007 legislation required the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish a program for tradable RECs by January 1, 2008. The PUC approved the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) for this purpose and required all utilities to register renewable generation assets by March 1, 2008. The program treats all eligible renewables equally and may not ascribe more or less credit to energy based on the state in which the energy was generated or the technology used to generate the energy. Only RECs recorded and tracked through the M-RETS can be used for compliance. Notably, Xcel Energy may not sell RECs to other Minnesota utilities for RPS-compliance purposes until 2021. For the purposes of the solar standard, only RECs associated with solar installed and generating in Minnesota on or after May 24, 2013 but before 2020 are eligible. In December 2007, the PUC made certain additional determinations for the operation of the REC trading system, listed below:

  • RECs will have a trading lifetime of 4 years according to the year of generation (i.e., all credits generated during 2008, regardless of the month, expired at the end of 2012).
  • The purchase of RECs through M-RETS may be used in utility green pricing programs, subject to the shelf life described above.
  • Consistent with M-RETS operating procedures, RECs must remain "whole" and may not be disaggregated into separate environmental commodities (e.g., carbon emission credits)
  • The PUC declined to issue a directive ascribing ownership of RECs where ownership is not addressed in power purchase agreements (PPAs), instead requiring utilities to pursue negotiations and settlements with the owners of generation units.

Compliance and Reporting

Utilities are required to file annual compliance reports with the PUC detailing their retail sales, REC retirements, and REC trading activities. If the PUC finds a utility is non-compliant, the commission may order the utility to construct facilities, purchase eligible renewable electricity, purchase RECs or engage in other activities to achieve compliance. If a utility fails to comply, the PUC may impose a financial penalty on the utility in an amount not to exceed the estimated cost of achieving compliance. The penalty may not exceed the lesser of the cost of constructing facilities or purchasing credits and proceeds must be deposited into a special account reserved for energy and conservation improvements. The PUC is authorized to modify or delay the implementation of the standards if the commission determines it is in the public interest to do so.

The Minnesota Division of Energy Resources posted a consolidated 2007 Compliance Report detailing the progress made by each utility in achieving the renewable energy objective (see below). Compliance reports from individual utilities for 2008-2011 are available from the PUC through the E-Docket System in Dockets E-999/PR-09-287 (2008), E-999/PR-10-267 (2009), ER-999/PR-11-189 (2010), and ER-999/PR-12-334 (2011). In 2013, the Division of Energy Resources published a compliance progress report for compliance through 2011, stating that utilities are on track to comply with 2012 goals.

In May 2011, the legislature passed S.F. 1197, which requires utilities to submit a report to the commission and legislative committees estimating the rate impact of the activities necessary for compliance. The first report was due in October 2011, and subsequent reports are included as part of the utilities' resource plans.

Statewide Solar Goal

H.F. 729 (2013) also created a statewide solar goal of 10% of retail electric sales from solar by 2030.

Renewable-Energy Objective - All Utilities (2005-2010)

S.F. 4 (2007) also modified Minnesota's non-mandated, "good faith" renewable-energy objective. The revised objective, which applied to all utilities, called for eligible renewables to account for 1% of all retail electricity sales in 2005 and 7% of all retail sales by 2010. The PUC measured utilities' efforts to meet the objective to determine whether utilities are making the required "good faith" effort. In December 2008, the PUC issued an order clarifying how it would evaluate this "good faith" effort during the years (2006 - 2009) for which no benchmarks were defined by the statute. The order required utilities to retire renewable energy credits (RECs) equivalent to 1% of their annual retail sales for the 2007-2009 compliance years (i.e., the calendar year). In effect, this both established a mandatory baseline compliance benchmark and allowed utilities to bank RECs -- subject to the REC trading lifetime described above -- in preparation for meeting the more stringent 7% objective in 2010. It could also be interpreted as setting a precedent for addressing similar issues in future years. Only RECs recorded and tracked through the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) could be used for compliance with the "good faith" objective. Docket E-999/CI-04-1616 remains open to address issues not covered during the first phase of rulemaking, as well as future implementation issues that may arise due to changes in national, state, or M-RETS policies and protocols.


  • Other electric utilities that must comply with Minnesota's RPS are: public utilities providing electric service; generation and transmission cooperative electric associations; municipal power agencies; and power districts operating in the state.

Rochester Public Utilities - Solar Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility

Rochester Public Utilities provides incentives for residential and commercial customers to install photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating systems. Qualifying PV systems can earn $0.50 per watt while eligible solar water heating systems can earn $15 per square foot of collector area. Systems must fully comply with equipment and installation requirements set forth by RPU.


In order to obtain eligibility, customers must agree to a net-metering and interconnection contract with Rochester Public Utilities. An energy audit must also be performed prior to system installation and results shared with RPU. Incentives are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. RPU obtains the right to withdraw the program at any time without notice.

Scenic River Protection Policy, Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province The State aims to preserve and protect Minnesota rivers and adjacent lands with outstanding scenic, recreational, natural, historical, scientific and similar values. Chapter 103F defines recreational, scenic, and wild rivers, and describes standards for a river management plan. More specific regulations can be found in the Minnesota Administrative Rules, chapter 6105.
Scientific and Natural Areas (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Certain scientific and natural areas are established throughout the state for the purpose of preservation and protection. Construction and new development is prohibited in these areas.
Shoreland Development (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local This program aims to (1) provide guidance for the wise development of shorelands of public waters and thus preserve and enhance the quality of surface waters; (2) preserve the economic and natural environmental values of shorelands; and (3) provide for the wise use of water and related land resources of the state. For the purpose of these regulations, shorelands are defined as land located within the following distances from the ordinary high water elevation of public waters: (1) 1,000 feet from the normal high watermark of a lake, pond, or flowage; and (2) 300 feet of a river or stream or the landward side of a floodplain delineated by ordinance on the river or stream, whichever is greater. The Department of Natural Resources sets model standards and criteria for shoreland management and allowable development; municipalities can also choose to set complementary or more stringent standards, but these must be submitted to the DNR for review. Specific regulations can be found on the DNR Shoreland Management Programs website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/shoreland/index.html and in the Minnesota Administrative Rules, chapter 6120.
Small Business Air Quality Compliance Assistance Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province A small business stationary source that is owned or operated by a person that employs 100 or fewer individuals, is not a major stationary source (as defined by the federal Clean Air Act), does not emit 50 tons or more per year of any regulated pollutant, and emits less than 75 tons per year of all regulated pollutants may qualify for information and technical assistance under this program.
Small Business Development Loan Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Loan Program Yes State/Province The Small Business Development Loan Program, sponsored by Minnesota’s Agricultural and Economic Development Board, issues industrial development bonds to provide small business loans up to $5 million to businesses whose expansion results in the creation of new jobs. Loans are available to manufacturing and industrial companies with fewer than 500 employees. The loan may be used for real estate or machinery and equipment.
Soil Erosion (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local The Board of Water and Soil Resources has adopted a model ordinance to serve as the minimum standard for local governments, which are asked to implement standards and administrative procedures designed to control soil loss and erosion. Activities that cause excessive soil loss are not permitted. Landowners may request assistance from local soil and water conservation districts to plan activities to minimize soil loss. A person engaged in a development activity that will disturb over one acre of land must submit a sedimentation control plan and time schedule that will prevent excessive soil loss to the local government, before the development activity is to begin. A permit is required prior to beginning such activity.
Soil and Water Conservation Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local This statute establishes that it is the responsibility of land occupiers to implement practices that conserve soil and water resources, and the policy of the state encourages them to do so. Chapter 103C of the Minnesota Statutes establishes local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to implement these programs.
Solar Energy Sales Tax Exemption (Minnesota) Minnesota Sales Tax Incentive Yes State/Territory In Minnesota, solar-energy systems purchased on or after August 1, 2005, are exempt from the state's sales tax. Solar energy systems are defined as "a set of devices whose primary purpose is to collect solar energy and convert and store it for useful purposes including heating and cooling buildings or other energy-using processes." Thus the exemption is very broad and could apply to solar electric (PV) systems, solar water-heating systems and solar space-heating systems. All components of these systems are exempt, including panels, wiring, pipes, pumps and racks. Buyers must complete Minnesota Department of Revenue Form ST3 "Certificate of Exemption" in order to claim the exemption. Sellers are required to keep the form in their files for tax reference. This incentive has no expiration date.
Solid Waste Management Policy and Programs (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local These statutes encourage the State and local governments to develop waste management strategies to achieve the maximum possible reduction in waste generation, eliminate or reduce adverse environmental impacts, encourage source separation of materials, and improve the efficiency of the overall system. The legislation also establishes solid waste management districts, to provide for coordinated planning of waste disposal strategies.
South Dakota-Minnesota Boundary Waters Commission (Minnesota) Minnesota Environmental Regulations Yes Local This section establishes an interstate commission to set standards for water levels and quality, and to coordinate among local governments to maintain and preserve water resources on the Minnesota/South Dakota boundary.
South Dakota-Minnesota Boundary Waters Commission (South Dakota) South Dakota
Minnesota
Environmental Regulations Yes State/Province This legislation establishes an interstate commission to set standards for water levels and quality, and to coordinate among local governments to maintain and preserve water resources on the Minnesota/South Dakota boundary.
Star Lakes and Rivers (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local An association organized for the purpose of addressing issues on a specific lake or river, a lake improvement district, or a lake conservation district may apply to the Star Lake Board for designation as a star lake or river. An association applying for Star Lake or River designation must have a lake or river management plan, maintain a membership of at least 50 percent of the private shoreland owners, participate in a water quality monitoring program, work with state agencies and local government units to identify water pollution sources and impairments, promote compliance with adopted shoreland zoning standards and best management practices, and undertake other responsibilities. The designation aims to promote sustainable water management practices and protect water resources, and can lead to greater state funding for improvement and mitigation projects.
State Small Business Credit Initiative (Minnesota) Minnesota Loan Program Yes State/Province The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) uses federal funding to stimulate private-sector lending and improve access to capital for small businesses and manufacturers that are credit worthy but not getting loans they need to expand and create jobs.

The initiative allocates up to $15.4 million into three state programs:

- The Capital Access Program
- Emerging Entrepreneurs Fund
- Small Business Loan Guarantees

And for businesses certified to participate in the Angel Tax Credit Program:

- Angel Fund Loan Program
With a goal of attracting $10 of private investment for each federal dollar invested, the SSBCI is expected to spur more than $150 million in lending to small businesses statewide and fuel the creation of more than 3,000 new jobs in Minnesota.
Sustainable Agriculture Loan Program (Minnesota) Minnesota State Loan Program Yes State/Territory The Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Loan program will provide loans to Minnesota residents actively engaged in farming for capital expenditures which enhance the environmental and economic viability of a farm. Loan proceeds may be used for a variety of purposes including projects related to on-farm energy production, energy use reductions or efficiency improvements, and solar powered equipment. Projects must result in both environmental improvement and improved profitability. Past loans have supported wind turbines, solar grain dryers and water pumps, small on-farm fuel production, and biomass burning furnaces, but most have been directed towards soil conservation.

Loans are available in amounts of up to $40,000 per farm family, with up to $160,000 ($40,000 per farmer) available for joint projects. The program currently offers a fixed interest rate of 3% over a term based on the expected life of the loan collateral, not to exceed 7 years. A 2:1 ratio of collateral to loan amount is required. The actual interest rate could change in the future, but is limited by statute to 6% or less. Repayment of the loan takes place on a semi-annual schedule.

Loan proceeds may not be used to cover operating expenses or to refinance existing debt obligations. The program accepts and reviews applications throughout the year. Please visit the program website or contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for additional information.
The Border Cities Enterprise Zone Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Enterprise Zone Yes State/Province The Border Cities Enterprise Zone Program provides business tax credits to businesses that invest, develop, expand, and create jobs in identified Border-Cities Enterprise Zones. Companies may be eligible for property tax credits, debt financing on new construction, sales tax credit on equipment, machinery, and materials, and employee tax credits.
The Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local The Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act aims to protect, preserve, and use natural, surface, and groundwater storage and retention systems; identify and plan for means to improve and protect groundwater quality; establish more uniform local policies and controls for surface and groundwater management; prevent the erosion of soil into surface water systems; and promote groundwater recharge. The Act establishes metropolitan watershed districts which set local watershed management plans. Each local plan defines water quality and water quality protection methods, and identifies regulated areas. The Board of Water and Soil Resources establishes minimum standards.
Value of Solar Tariff (Minnesota) Minnesota Performance-Based Incentive No State/Territory Note: This program is only available to customers of one of the state's investor-owned utilities (Alliant, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power Company, Xcel Energy). Customers of a municipal utility or rural electric cooperative are ineligible for this program.


By January 31, 2014, the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) must develop a distributed solar value methodology and submit it to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval. The DOC must consult with stakeholders in order to develop the methodology, which must take into account: the value of energy and its delivery; generation capacity; transmission capacity; transmission and distribution line losses; and environmental value. The DOC may also consider: the cost or benefit of solar operation to the utility; credit for locally manufactured or assembled energy systems; and systems installed at high-value locations on the grid.


Once the tariff methodology is approved by the PUC, affected utilities may offer either the Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) or Net Metering.* The utility must apply for PUC approval, and the PUC may only approve the tariff if it:


  1. Appropriately applies the DOC methodology;
  2. Includes a mechanism to allow recovery of the cost to serve customers receiving the alternative tariff rate;
  3. Charges the customer for all electricity consumed by the customer at the applicable rate schedule;
  4. Credits the customer for all electricity generated by the solar photovoltaic device at the VOST rate;
  5. Applies all charges and credits to a monthly bill, and excess credits carry forward and expire on the last day of February each year;
  6. Complies with net metering size limitations;
  7. Complies with interconnection requirements;
  8. Complies with standby charge requirements.

The tariff rate cannot be less than the retail rate used for net metering until three years after the PUC approves the utility tariff.


  • Utilities that offer a Community Solar Garden program (see Minnesota's Net Metering law) must compensate systems at the VOST rate. Because Xcel is required to offer a Community Solar Garden program, they will be required to offer a VOST.
Value-Added Stock Loan Participation Program (Minnesota) Minnesota State Loan Program Yes State/Territory The Value-Added Stock Loan Participation Program was created in 1994 and is designed to help farmers finance the purchase of stock in certain types of cooperative, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership that will produce a "value-added agricultural product." This may include wind energy and anaerobic-digestion cooperatives if they meet the eligibility requirements (see Statute and Rules for details).

Like Minnesota's Agricultural Improvement Loan Program, this is a "participation loan" program, where loans are made by individual financial institutions working with the Rural Finance Authority (RFA). The RFA purchases up to 45% of the loan principal up to $40,000. The participant negotiates an interest rate, which may be a variable or fixed rate, for the non-RFA portion of the loan with a lender. The interest rate offered by the RFA is then set at a fixed rate of the lesser of 4.0% or half the lender's effective rate at closing. Loans are for a maximum of 8 years, and interest-only payments are permitted for the first 2 years. Interest and loan principal repayments are deposited back into a revolving loan account. The RFA is not permitted to make stock loans cumulatively totaling more than $2 million for the financing of stock purchases in any one cooperative.

The program will not finance more than 95% of the price of the stock purchased by the participant. To qualify, an applicant may not have a total net worth exceeding $437,000 (as of July 2013, indexed for inflation), including the assets and liabilities of the applicant's spouse and dependents.
Water Diversion and Appropriation (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources is responsible for administering the use, allocation, and control of waters in the state, as well as the establishment, maintenance, and control of lake levels and water storage reservoirs. Local governments may apply to the Commissioner to request authority to establish and monitor water levels. Permits from the Commissioner are required for water diversion or consumptive use greater than 2,000,000 gallons per day, or for diversion or consumptive use from the Great Lakes greater than 5,000,000 gallons per day. Additional restrictions may apply when certain water sources are used. Water use for once-through cooling systems is restricted, in the majority of cases, to 5,000,000 gallons annually. No major change in the operation of an installation using the waters of the state may be made without a permit from the commissioner. More specific regulations can be found in the Minnesota Administrative Rules, sections 6115.0300-0810.
Water Pollution Control Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This Act gives the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency broad responsibility to establish pollution standards for state waters; monitor water conditions and sources of pollution; review construction, installation, and operational practices which may lead to additional pollution; establish and revise pretreatment standards; and regulate wastewater treatment plants, stormwater discharges, disposal systems, point sources, and radioactive discharges. Separate standards exist for waters in the Lake Superior Basin. See the Minnesota Administrative Rules, sections 7050-7060 for more specific regulations.
Water Use Permitting (Wisconsin) Wisconsin Siting and Permitting Yes Local Withdrawers in the Great Lakes Basin who withdraw water in quantities that average 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period are required to get a water use permit. Two types of water use permits exist: a general permit is required for withdrawals that average 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period but do not equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days. An individual permit is required for withdrawals that equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days. There are no permit application fees.
Watershed Management Policy (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local It is state policy to manage groundwater and surface water resources from the perspective of aquifers, watersheds, and river basins to achieve protection, preservation, enhancement, and restoration of the state's valuable groundwater and surface water resources. Chapter 103D establishes Watershed Districts across the state to implement watershed management plans. This chapter also provides procedures for construction projects proposed in watershed management districts.
Wells, Borings, and Underground Uses (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This section regulates wells, borings, and underground storage with regards to protecting groundwater resources. The Commissioner of the Department of Health has jurisdiction, and can grant permits for proposed activities, including natural gas exploration and underground storage.
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local A sanitary board is established to deal with long-term serious problems relating to water pollution and solid waste disposal in the area. The district can set regulations regarding garbage management and recycling, composting and yard waste, wastewater and biosolids, and pollution prevention for the St. Louis River basin area and other territory west of Lake Superior.
Wetland Conservation Act (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This chapter of the Minnesota Administrative Rules implements the Wetland Conservation Act of 1991, setting standards for water preservation, withdrawal, and replacement.
Wetland Preservation Areas (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local A wetland owner can apply to the host county for designation of a wetland preservation area. Once designated, the area remains designated until the owner initiates expiration, except where a state or governmental agency exercises eminent domain. Construction and certain public projects are prohibited on designated wetland preservation areas.
White Bear Lake Conservation District (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province This statute establishes the White Bear Lake Conservation District, which has the authority to set water and land use regulations for the area around White Bear Lake.
Lower St. Croix Wild and Scenic River Act (Minnesota and Wisconsin) Minnesota
Wisconsin
Sales Tax Incentive Yes Federal The lower portion of the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin is regulated under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. Most new residential, commercial, and industrial uses are prohibited, riverway lands are protected by acreage, frontage, and setback requirements, and affected municipalities are required to adopt zoning ordinances in the spirit of these regulations.
Wildlife Management Areas (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Certain areas of the State are designated as wildlife protection areas and refuges; new construction and development is restricted in these areas.
Wind Energy Conversion Systems (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes Local This section distinguishes between large (capacity 5,000 kW or more) and small (capacity of less than 5,000 kW) wind energy conversion systems (WECS), and regulates the siting of large conversion systems. The statute makes provisions for grouping WECS that are located within five miles and built within one year of each other, and exhibit characteristics (e.g., ownership) of being part of the same development. It is the policy of the state to site LWECS in an orderly manner compatible with environmental preservation, sustainable development, and the efficient use of resources. A permit under this chapter is required prior to the construction of an LWECS, and is the only site approval necessary. The site permit supersedes and preempts all zoning, building, or land use rules, regulations, or ordinances adopted by regional, county, local, and special purpose governments.
Wind Energy Sales Tax Exemption (Minnesota) Minnesota Sales Tax Incentive Yes State/Territory Wind-energy conversion systems used as electric-power sources are exempt from Minnesota's sales tax. Materials used to manufacture, install, construct, repair or replace wind-energy systems also are exempt from the state sales tax. A "wind energy conversion system" (WECS) is defined as any device, such as a wind charger, wind mill or wind turbine, that converts wind energy to a form of usable energy.

In order to claim the exemption, buyers must complete an exemption certificate (MN Dept. of Revenue Form ST3 - Certificate of Exemption) and supply it to the equipment seller.
Wind and Solar-Electric (PV) Systems Exemption (Minnesota) Minnesota Property Tax Incentive Yes State/Territory All real and personal property of wind energy systems are exempt from the state's property tax, except for the land on which the wind energy system is located. Under H.B. 3167, beginning with taxes payable in 2015, personal property consisting of solar energy generating systems is exempt from property taxation, but the real property (i.e., the land on which the solar energy generating system is located) is still subject to property tax. Wind and solar energy production taxes have replaced more typical forms of property tax.

Wind


In lieu of a property tax on large wind-energy electricity generating systems, a production tax was implemented in 2002 for systems installed after January 1, 1991. The production tax for electricity generated by wind is:


  • $0.0012 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for systems greater than 12 megawatts (MW) nameplate capacity,
  • $0.00036 per kWh for systems between 2 MW and 12 MW nameplate capacity, and
  • $0.00012 per kWh for systems between 0.25 MW and 2 MW nameplate capacity.

Wind systems less than 250 kW are exempt from the production tax, as are systems with a capacity of 2 MW or less that are owned by political subdivisions and systems located in a designated job opportunity building zone. The wind energy production tax is considered to be a personal property tax.


For 2006 - 2009 (Minn. Stat. § 272.029 Subd. 6), the revenue generated by the production tax was required to be distributed to local taxing districts as follows: 80% to counties; 14% to cities and townships; and 6% to school districts. For 2010 and thereafter, the distribution of revenues is set at 80% to counties and 20% to cities and townships. For further details, please see the Minnesota Department of Revenue's Property Tax Administrators' Manual.

Notably, a provision in a separate statute (Minn. Stat. § 272.028) allows a mutually agreeable alternative to be negotiated between the local government authority and the wind facility owner for the purpose of maintaining "public infrastructure and services." For example, a lower tax might be negotiated by a local government in order to attract wind development.


Solar


In lieu of a property tax on large solar energy generating systems, a production tax is set beginning with taxes payable in 2015. The production tax for electricity generated by solar is $1.20 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for systems exceeding 1 MW (AC); systems 1 MW (AC) or less are exempt from the production tax. The solar energy production tax is considered to be a personal property tax.


The owner of applicable solar energy generating systems must file a report with the commissioner of revenue on or before January 15 annually; on or before February 28, the commissioner of revenue must notify the owner of the tax due to each county for the current year.


The distribution of revenues is set at 80% to counties and 20% to cities and townships.
Work Affecting Public Waters (Minnesota) Minnesota Siting and Permitting Yes State/Province Earlier sections of chapter 103G describe the process of delineating public waters; this section describes the responsibility of contractors and property owners when construction or other activity affects public waters. No person may construct, reconstruct, remove, or make a change in a reservoir, dam, or waterway obstruction on a public water or in any manner change or diminish the course, current, or cross section of public waters without obtaining a permit, as described by this section.
Xcel Energy - Renewable Development Fund Grants (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Grant Program Yes Utility Note': Xcel is not currently accepting proposals for this program. The most recent application deadline was April 1, 2013. See the program web site for information regarding future solicitations.

The Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund (RDF) was created in 1999 as an outcome of 1994 Minnesota legislation concerning spent nuclear fuel at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Plant. The original legislation has been amended and added to several times, expanding the amount of money collected by the fund and prescribing funding allocations for specific programs. Funding available for the grant program thus depends on the other funding obligations that need to be met with RDF funds at any given time. The Xcel RDF provides grants periodically through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Renewable-energy technologies eligible for funding typically include wind, biomass, solar, hydroelectric generators and fuel cells. Funding is generally split between new development projects that result in the production of renewable energy, and research and development. Wind energy production projects were not eligible for funding under the third and most recent grant cycle and will likely remain so under future cycles. However, wind remains generally eligible for projects not engaged in energy production.

The first round of grants from the Xcel Energy RDF program, completed in 2001, supported 19 projects with nearly $16 million in funding. In 2005, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the second round of projects funded from the Xcel Energy RDF program - 29 projects totaling nearly $37 million. The selections for the third and most recent round of projects - 22 projects totaling $22.6 million -- were approved by the PUC in April 2008. During the third cycle of funding a total $8.2 million was awarded to 5 energy production projects and $14.4 million was awarded to 17 R&D projects. Because of delays in the release of the fourth round of funding, there is approximately $30 million available for grants in the fourth round of funding.


In April 2012, the Minnesota Legislature enacted a bill (S.F. 2181) to clarify the purpose of the RDF and create reporting requirements. Funds in the RDF account may only be used for the following purposes:


  • To increase the market penetration of renewable electric energy resources in Minnesota at reasonable costs
  • To promote the start-up, expansion, and attraction of renewable electric energy projects and companies within Minnesota
  • To stimulate in-state research and development into renewable electric energy technologies
  • To develop near-commercial and demonstration scale renewable electric projects or near-commercial and demonstration scale electric infrastructure delivery projects if those delivery projects enhance the delivery of renewable electric energy
Xcel must submit an annual report to the legislature by February 15 describing the projects funded by the RDF. In addition, the projects receiving funds from the RDF must supply a written report detailing the project's financial, environmental, and other benefits. For details on past and current projects, please see the program web site.
Xcel Energy - Solar Production Incentive (Minnesota) Minnesota Performance-Based Incentive Yes Utility Beginning in 2014, Xcel must offer a solar production incentive for systems 20 kW-DC or less. The customer's system capacity may not be more than 120% of the customer's on-site annual energy consumption. The incentive rate has not yet been determined; the Public Utilities Commission must approve the incentive rate. The incentive will be based on the system's production and will be paid to the customer for 10 years. Each year for the 5 years of the program (2014 through 2018), $5 million will be allocated from the Renewable Development Fund for the production incentive.
Xcel Energy - Solar*Rewards Program and MN Made PV Rebate Program (Minnesota) Minnesota Utility Rebate Program Yes Utility Note''''': Xcel Energy is no longer accepting new application submissions for the former Solar*Rewards (2013) and Minnesota Bonus (2014) programs. Check the Program Website for updates.


Solar*Rewards Program


Xcel Energy's Solar*Rewards Program provides an incentive for residential and commercial customers that install grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) systems of at least 0.5 kilowatts (kW) and less than 40 kW. Systems larger than 40 kW do not qualify for the program. Previously, the incentive took the form of an up-front rebate of $2.25 per watt (W) DC; this rate has been decreased to $1.50/W for the 2013 program year. The 2014 Solar Rewards program offers an incentive based on the kWh production from the PV system, as recorded by the production emter. This incentive is paid annually at $0.08/kWh produced over 10 years. In exchange for the up-front incentive, the customer is required to enter into a 20-year contract with Xcel Energy that transfers ownership of all renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by the system to the utility during the life of the contract. The annual budget for this program is $5 million, with $4.6 million going toward incentives.



In order to qualify for the program, the PV system must be installed on a property or a building located in Minnesota that is owned by the applicant and that receives electric service from Xcel Energy. New construction projects are eligible for incentives, but must have an Xcel Energy electric meter on-site and an electricity account set up with the utility. In addition, customers must have performed energy audit within the last three years that meets the standards of Xcel Energy's energy audit program and may be required to implement certain measures identified in the energy audit prior to participating in the Solar*Rewards program. In lieu of an energy audit, residential customers with homes that have been Energy Star certified through the utility's Energy Star project automatically qualify. Likewise, commercial customers that have participated in one of several commercial energy efficiency programs offered by the utility also automatically qualify.

To receive the incentive, participants must submit an application and receive approval from Xcel Energy prior to installing the system. The program has a $250 application fee. If, prior to the completion of an engineering review, the application is denied or the customer elects not participate in the program, the customer's application fee will be refunded. All PV systems must use new equipment, carry a five-year warranty, and meet several other equipment and installation requirements designed to assure the safe and effective operation of the system.

Net metering is available for Xcel Energy's customers, although customers may be eligible to enroll in one of several other customer-generation options if they wish instead of net metering. Under net metering net excess generation (NEG) at the end of a monthly billing period is generally credited to the next month’s bill. If a customer's NEG balance exceeds $25.00 at the end of a billing period, the customer will be issued a check for the balance by the utility. Net metering takes place using a bi-directional meter for which the customer pays a small monthly fee. The program also requires a generation meter installed at the utility's expense to measure energy (i.e., REC production) by the solar system. Applicants can view the Solar*Rewards Customer Contract at the link above.

Minnesota Made Bonus PV Solar Rebate Program
In addition to the Solar Rebate Program offered by Xcel Energy, consumers can also qualify for an additional rebate of $2.75/W with the purchase of "Minnesota Made" solar energy systems. This additional rebate is made possible with the passage of the 2010 Minnesota Statute 116C.7791: Rebates for Solar Photovoltaic Modules. If the funds for the Solar*Rewards Program have been exhausted, Minnesota Made projects will still receive $5.00/W from the Minnesota Made Bonus budget. This may affect how the funds are distributed; contact the program administrator for more details.

The “Minnesota Made” PV Solar Rebate Program was designed to encourage the development and use of PV modules receiving a specified minimum component assembly by a Minnesota-based manufacturer. Funding for the program is designated for five years, and the calculated "Minnesota Made" rebate is paid out with five equal annual payments accordingly.



Program Qualifications
To qualify for the Minnesota Made incentive program, an applicant must:


  • Be an Xcel Energy customer and have applied for and received an Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards interconnection agreement (All current Solar*Rewards program requirements apply).
  • Install qualified “Minnesota Made” PV modules as defined by state statute.
  • Submit a valid purchase order through the Solar*Rewards online application process for qualified “Minnesota Made” PV equipment to ensure funds are placed in reserve for the project. The fund reservation will be confirmed in a Minnesota Made Incentive Acknowledgement letter.
  • Install the PV system within the funding year that the incentive reservation was assigned.
  • Sign a Minnesota Made Rebate contract confirming the payment calculation assumptions prior to payment.

Calculating the "Minnesota Made" Rebate

In June 2011, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved changes (Docket No. E-002/M-10-1278) to the methodology for calculating the "Minnesota Made" Rebate. There are two separate calculation methods, depending on whether or not the applicant is using federal depreciation tax benefits in excess of the federal taxes imposed on the payments. If the applicant agrees with the statement "that it will not use, or by contract or other agreement permit another entity to use, federal depreciation tax benefits that exceed the federal tax imposed on rebates awarded under this application," then the applicant should use the Example 1 calculation. If the applicant does not agree with the statement, the federal depreciation value is deducted from the pre-tax sum of all rebates. The highest applicable income tax rate is used to add back taxes that would be applied to the payment. Applicants that do not agree to the statement should use Example 2 in the above document in order to calculate the rebate.
Xcel Energy Wind and Biomass Generation Mandate (Minnesota) Minnesota Renewables Portfolio Standard Yes State/Territory Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. § 216B.2423) requires Xcel Energy to build or contract for 225 megawatts (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the state by December 31, 1998, and to build or contract for an additional 200 MW of installed capacity by December 31, 2002. The same statute also directed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to require Xcel Energy to construct and operate, purchase or contract to purchase an additional 400 MW of installed wind-energy capacity by December 31, 2002, subject to resource planning and least-cost planning requirements. The total wind-energy capacity required under Minn. Stat. § 216B.2423 is 825 MW.

A separate law (Minn. Stat. § 216B.2424, also originally enacted in 1994) requires Xcel Energy to build or contract for 110 MW of electricity generated from biomass resources. The original requirement was for 50 MW by December 31, 1998 and an additional 75 MW by December 31, 2002, a total of 125 MW. The mandate was subsequently reduced to 110 MW in 2003. Additional sections of the law allocate the biomass requirement in various ways, imposing limits on the amount which may come from a single project, specific project, or fuel source.

This portion of the mandate is being fulfilled by district energy in St. Paul, a poultry-waste project in Benson, and a third biomass project in Virginia/Hibbing. In May 2008, the mandate was amended to confine the definition of eligible farm-grown, closed-loop biomass to herbaceous crops, trees, agricultural waste, and aquatic plant matter that is used to generate electricity and to specifically exclude mixed municipal solid waste from eligibility. A further amendment (S.F. 550) relating to revisions of one project's power purchase agreement was enacted in May 2009, but it left Xcel's obligations essentially unchanged.

The wind and biomass energy purchased or contracted for under this law is eligible to be folded into the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the mandatory portion of which will take effect during 2010 for Xcel Energy. In September 2010 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) determined (see PUC Order Docket E-002/M-08-440) that Xcel owns renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with wind and biomass contracts entered into under this mandate in cases where REC ownership is not addressed in the contract and a separate settlement has not been negotiated.