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Contested Case

Contested Case

What You Need to Know

Permitting Timeline: 12 Months

The PUC Role

The Commission reviews applications, determines the review method, helps build the record, holds a public meeting, and the Commissioners will make the final decision about whether to issue a certificate of need.

Relevant Statutes: Minn. Rules 7849/ Minn. Stat. §§ 216B.243, 216B.2421

Who Is Involved

  • Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

  • Department of Commerce – Division of Energy Resources

  • Department of Commerce – Energy Environmental Review and Analysis

  • Office of Administrative Hearings – Administrative Law Judge


Permitting Process

When a certificate of need (CN) is submitted to the Commission a comment period is opened on whether the application contains the information required under the statutes and rules, and whether there is enough information to begin the CN review process. At the close of the comment period the Commission decides whether to accept or reject the application.  If the application is accepted the Commission will also determine which review procedures should be followed develop the record.

The contested case proceeding is used when there is controversy related to a proposed large energy project or it is used when the Commission believes there are issues about the project that should be examined more closely, known as record development.  In contested cases there are formal parties that participate in the case.  These parties will usually hire their own experts or witnesses on the specific issues they are interested in. These witnesses submit testimony to support their position.  After testimony has been placed into the record, there is a court-like proceeding overseen by and Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  During the court-like proceeding the experts or witnesses take the stand and are asked questions by the other parties about their testimony.  This process further develops the record on issues and can clarify what the witness is intending to communicate.

At the end of the court-like proceeding the parties submit additional comments further arguing their position and pointing out what they believe to be the flaws in the other parties’ positions on the issues.  

The ALJ reviews the entire record and develops a report known as Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendations. The report sets out the issues raised, and arguments made, it confirms whether the Applicant has met the requirements under the law, and whether the procedural requirements of the review process have been met.  Finally, the ALJ’s Report provides recommendations to the Commission on whether to grant a CN to the applicant and whether there should be any additional requirements or conditions to address the potential impacts of the project.

Parties have an opportunity to respond to the ALJ’s Report to clarify the record, called exceptions, to indicate their support, or set out their opposition to what the Judge has provided.

Next, the Commission reviews everything that is in the record.  The Commission then has a public agenda meeting.  The public agenda meeting allows each Commissioner the opportunity to ask any questions of the parties.  Once all questions are answered, the Commissioners discuss the issues in the docket and indicate their thoughts and conclusions, and how and why they arrived at those conclusions. After the discussions, individual Commissioners make motions in which they recommend, to their fellow Commissioners, how they believe the issues should be determined.  All Commissioners present at the meeting then vote on the motions presented.  A simple majority vote is required for a motion to pass.

Finally, a written order is issued that provides a summary discussion of the major issues raised during the proceeding and what the positions of the parties were.  Lastly, the order describes what the Commission decided and the supporting arguments for that decision. 

Need More Help?

Email public.advisor.puc@state.mn.us

Call the Commission @651-296-0406

Access eDockets Online Document System

All filings are available via the Commission’s electronic document management system, eDockets. With a very robust search tool, you can easily access documents of interest by a variety of searches.

Dockets of interest

Docket 21-135: In the Matter of a Commission Investigation into the Impact of Severe Weather in February 2021 on Impacted Minnesota Natural Gas Utilities and Customers

Docket 19-368: In the Matter of Xcel Energy’s 2020-2034 Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan

How to Submit a Comment

1. Submit a comment online by using our online open docket Comment Form.

2. Complete and submit a Written Form. Be sure to reference the docket number associated with the case.

3. Mail comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite #350, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55101.

4. Email comments on any docket to consumer.puc@state.mn.us. Comments relating to Energy Facilities, may be directed to publicadvisor.puc@state.mn.us.

5. Fax comments to 651-297-7073.

6. EFile comments directly by creating your own account in eDockets . You must register and create an account in order to submit comments directly to the docket.

Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments on any case before the MN PUC at any time and are also welcome to send comments to, or to contact, the MN PUC about regulatory matter or subject of interest related to the MN PUC’s work.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission welcomes and encourages public participation. If you have questions about,or need help with the public comment process, contact us at 651-296, 0406 or 1-800-657-3782.

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