Property rights protected by Minnesota regulators

Farmer holding kidToday, Minnesota regulators ruled in favor of consumers and their property rights when it comes to generating their own solar power.

  • The issue at hand was a customer complaint brought to the Public Utilities Commission after the customer felt he was denied his rights to be compensated for generating his own energy under Minnesota law.  The customer’s utility – Minnesota Valley Light and Power Association in Montevideo – had attempted to pay nothing for a significant amount of electricity and other system benefits his solar system would provide back to the grid.
  • The ruling confirmed that Minnesota customers who generate their own energy have the right to choose fair compensation for their on-site wind and solar under Minnesota law, which includes a customer option for retail rate net metering.
  • Still to be decided is a broader docket related to solar and wind fixed fees as high as $83 per month that co-ops across the state are charging customers just to have the renewable systems on their property.

The growing solar market in Minnesota has elevated several long standing issues for consumers across the state. Most recently, the PUC has overturned a past fixed fee on co-op members who installed wind and solar on their homes and initiated an investigation of discriminatory fixed fees charged by 14 cooperative utilities.

As independent energy policy experts, Fresh Energy has been heavily involved in pushing for rulings that align with current law as well as nationwide best practices (including in our formal comments). In ruling for the property and self-generation rights that are clearly laid out in Minnesota law, the PUC has continued to set a strong precedent and clear market signals to energy businesses and consumers.

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