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Xcel Energy proposes Community Solar Garden Program

Xcel Energy on Sept. 30 filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) its proposal to administer a Community Solar Garden Program. The program, subject to approval by the PUC, offers a new renewable energy option to Xcel customers who want to participate in solar but face physical or financial barriers to installing solar at their home or business.

Xcel Energy proposes to accept applications from solar developers to construct the gardens. Under the proposal, the company would seek up to 2.5 megawatts of solar power per quarter during the next two years, for a total of up to 20 megawatts. Currently there are about 14 megawatts of solar power on Xcel Energy’s system in Minnesota. Customers would be able to subscribe to a solar garden for a portion or all of their electricity needs. Xcel Energy proposes to set the bill credit rate for the initial rollout at about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential customers and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for commercial customers.

The program is being developed in accordance with 2013 legislation (Community Solar Garden, MN Laws 2013, Chapter 85 HF 729, Article 10, Section 2) that requires Xcel to develop and administer a community solar program. Other investor-owned utilities (IOUs) may elect to develop community solar programs as well. The Xcel program must begin within 90 days of PUC approval of the plan.

Xcel’s proposed program can viewed by going to the Minnesota Department of Commerce eDockets Search System and entering docket number 13-867. Public comments on the proposal are due by Nov. 6 and can be submitted to Persons without e-mail access may send by U.S. mail to Burl Haar, Executive Secretary, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul MN 55101-2147. Include the docket number in all communications.