The Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 (NGEA) (.pdf) established energy-saving goals, through the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), for electric and gas utilities that operate in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) oversees CIP to ensure that ratepayer dollars are used effectively and energy savings are reported as accurately as possible.
Benefits of CIP include:
Utility CIP Plans
Traditionally, utility programs have focused on incentivizing customers to purchase energy efficient products instead of standard efficiency products. Moving forward, as utilities strive to meet higher energy savings goals, the DER and Minnesota utilities are piloting new approaches to save energy such as offering packaged services and measuring savings that result from operation and maintenance or behavioral measures, such as fine-tuning building control systems or simply turning off lights when not in use.
When reviewing a utility's CIP plan, the DER looks for programs that are cost-effective and that reach a broad spectrum of the utility's customers including residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers. Special programs that specifically meet the needs of low-income customers are also required by statute.
Typical programs for residential customers include:
Typical programs for commercial or industrial customers include:
Statutory Requirements (see Minnesota Statutes 216B.241)
The NGEA further established the potential for electric utilities to count the savings that result from qualified improvements to its generation, transmission, or distribution infrastructure, or conservation measures in its own facilities toward the 1.5 percent savings goal, once plans are in place to achieve at least 1 percent savings through conservation improvements. Further legislation passed in 2009 also allowed natural gas utilities to count biomethane purchases toward their savings goal in a similar fashion.
The CIP statutes contain important stipulations in regards to how utilities spend CIP funds:
Utilities must file their CIP plans with the energy division at least every three years. Utilities report their actual CIP spending and savings achieved on an annual basis.