Last week, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s pilot program to provide solar energy to low income customers.
- The Customer Access Joint Pilot Program will combine energy efficiency upgrades with community solar garden subscriptions for Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP)-eligible customers in the Railroad Island neighborhood on the East Side of Saint Paul.
- The model is truly first of its kind in the way it combines energy efficiency and solar, allows Xcel Energy to own the community solar garden, and is dedicated to serve LIHEAP-eligible residents.
- Fresh Energy pushed for the pilot to be part of a larger strategy to serve low income customers and applauds Xcel’s leadership in moving forward
Xcel and its partners plan to serve more than 400 customers through the Rehabilitation and Efficiency: Neighborhood Energy Works (RENEWs) pilot, including 160 community solar garden subscriptions. Xcel is guaranteeing no net cost to participants—instead, using a “Net Bill Credit,” which is the applicable bill credit rate minus the estimated cost of the RENEWs program, that will show up on a customer’s bill.
Moving forward, Xcel will be required to report on a number of items, including the impact of energy efficiency measures installed, non-energy benefits to the neighborhood, and project queue number.
Fresh Energy and Xcel also reached an agreement to add an additional project to the RENEWs model. Fresh Energy anticipates working with Xcel in the coming months to establish potential project locations and timelines, and Xcel indicated that it would include an update to the Commission in its first compliance filing within 30 days of the Commission’s Order.