The Commission’s authority includes granting Certificates of Need and Site or Route Permits for large energy facilities. Applications for projects subject to the Commission’s authority are filed with the Commission in compliance with state statutes and administrative rules. Joint applications for a Certificate of Need and a Site or Route Permit are allowed.
For a Certificate of Need, the Commission determines the basic types of facility (if any) to be built, the size of the facility and the time and in-service date of the facility. The process typically takes twelve months to complete.
The Public Utilities Commission is responsible for issuing permits for large electric power plants, electric transmission lines, oil or gas pipelines, storage facilities, solar energy generating systems and wind energy conversion systems which may require one or both of the following:
- Site permits for large power plants greater than 50 megawatts
- Site permits for wind farms greater than 5 megawatts
- Route permits for high-voltage transmission lines greater than 100 kilovolts
- Route permits for large pipelines
The Minnesota Legislature has established state policy to locate energy facilities compatible with environmental preservation and the efficient use of resources. The Commission must designate sites and routes that minimize adverse human and environmental impacts while insuring electric power system reliability and integrity and insuring that electric energy needs are met and fulfilled in an orderly and timely fashion (Minn. Stat. 216E.02).
The Department of Commerce, Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) staff conducts an environmental review, provides technical expertise and submits recommendations to the Commission after analysis of siting and routing applications. The EERA provides an environmental impact statement on each proposed large electric generating plant or high-voltage transmission line. No other state environmental review documents are required.
The Commission's procedures for review of proposed large energy facilities incorporate compliance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and provide for broad spectrum public participation, including timely public notice and multiple opportunities for public comment.