On a warm and sunny Earth Day in St. Paul, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the 2014 energy omnibus bill with broad bipartisan support in an 85 to 45 vote. Led by the efforts of Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL – 36B), House File 2834 advances strong clean energy and energy efficiency policy in Minnesota. The bill includes the following three provisions that Fresh Energy has been strongly advocating for and that were championed by Representative Pat Garofalo (R – 58B) and Representative Will Morgan (DFL – 63B):
- Require investor-owned utilities to offer a residential electric vehicle (EV) charging rate that supports EV adoption while reducing overall ratepayer costs. Under the customer-optional rate, EV owners will be able to charge with renewable energy at reduced off-peak (e.g., overnight) prices. The bill also addresses regulatory barriers that currently discourage utilities from becoming champions for EV adoption.
- Establish clear guidelines for the permitting of rooftop solar projects by Homeowners Association (HOA) boards, allowing HOAs to impose reasonable restrictions while at the same time removing barriers to solar energy. These guidelines and restrictions would apply to both solar PV and solar thermal projects, and would only cover homeowners responsible for their own roof.
- Create transparency in the distributed generation market by collecting project cost and location data through the interconnection process. This will allow customers and businesses to make more confident investment decisions on distributed generation resources like solar energy. This provision also provides policy makers with important market information so they can make informed policy decisions.
Fresh Energy worked tirelessly over the last few months with allies and opponents to find a common ground that garnered support from both sides of the aisle. Fresh Energy staff also testified in numerous committee hearings in support of the individual bills that were eventually included in the bill. House File 2834 also includes beneficial provisions that allow customers to pay back energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on their utility bill, extend the utility resource planning timeline, remove prohibitive barriers to valuable new wind projects, and improve the utility landscape for low-income and medical equipment-dependent ratepayers.
The omnibus bill now needs to pass out of the Minnesota Senate before heading to the governor’s desk for official enactment. To track these bills, check out Fresh Energy’s bill tracker.