Each agency performs a different role when it is involved in PUC proceedings. Largely, the PUC and OAH roles are consistent among all docket types. The OAH facilitates public hearings. The PUC staff facilitates docket participation and record development. State law requires the PUC to “adopt broad spectrum participation as a principal of operation” with respect to energy facilities. State law also identifies specific opportunities in which the PUC must allow the public to provide input on a given case.
The Department of Commerce, and units within Commerce like Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) and Energy Regulation and Planning (ERP), provides different functions depending on the docket type. Several laws and rules govern energy facilities cases and establish varying participation opportunities across different types of dockets. Agency roles are outlined in various provisions under Minn. Stat. §§ 216A, 216B, 216C, 216E, 216F, 216G, and 216H
The Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources (DOC DER)
DOC DER provides objective analysis and technical assistance to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC or Commission). The DOC DER advocates for the public interest in proceedings before the PUC, including rate cases, resource plans, certificates of need, and other regulated electric and natural gas utility matters. The DOC DER also advocates on behalf of Minnesota ratepayers in regional and federal matters.
The Department of Commerce Energy Environmental Review & Analysis (EERA)
EERA is an active participant in the permitting of large energy infrastructure projects under the Commission’s authority. EERA conducts environmental review on behalf of the PUC for proposed energy projects. EERA provides technical expertise and assistance to the Commission including analysis of the relative merits of siting and routing options, identification of permit conditions to mitigate potential impacts, and review of permit compliance. EERA also identifies and undertakes research on the environmental impacts of energy facilities and creates guidance materials to ensure adequate and consistent analysis of these impacts.
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)
The OAH is an independent agency that provides fair and impartial hearings. The OAH is involved in all types of Commission matters like rate cases, integrated resource planning, the siting of large energy infrastructure projects, and others. The Commission often requests the OAH to administer public hearings, take public comments, summarize a docket, and give recommendations.
The Office of the Attorney General – Residential Utilities Division (OAG RUD)
The OAG RUD represents the interests of residential and small business customers in utility service matters before the Commission. OAG RUD provides analysis and recommendations to the Commission on matters that will impact the interests of residential and small business customers.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
These state agencies participate in Commission dockets that may impact their regulatory authority. Through their participation, these agencies will help build a record that allows the Commission to make informed decisions that support Minnesota’s policy goals.