A Message to MEA Members - CIP

Submitted by Jamie Fitzke, Program and Policy Manager, CEE

MEA Members, Minnesota’s 2019 legislative session came to a close without much change in energy, but not due to lack of effort! Significant discussion and legislation to innovate the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP - our state statute enabling utility energy efficiency incentives) took place in both senate and house energy committees this session. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to get parties aligned, mainly due to legislators and governor focusing (with good reason!) on completing a final budget.

So, while there were no CIP gains, there were also no CIP losses. Thank you to MEA members who testified in committees and contacted their legislators in support of CIP this session. This year’s work to advance CIP provides a great foundation for next session. Efforts to extend CIP’s impact will continue beyond this legislative session. I hope you will once again voice your support of CIP.
Read more: http://tiny.cc/hcju7y.

Below is a list of 2019 energy-related bills that passed this session with a short summary. Of particular interest to MEA members: Commercial PACE expansion.

C-PACE Financing Expanded
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing, known as C-PACE, allows qualified buildings to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy building improvements through property tax assessment. Under the new statute, C-PACE is allowed for new construction projects and considers an existing building’s projected value.

Benchmarking Required for Schools
Many schools in Minnesota currently enter and track their energy usage through an online system. Now all schools (or an entity acting on their behalf, such as a utility) will be required to enter their energy usage into the online tracking system.

Diversity Stakeholder Group (report due 1/15/20)
The PUC will convene a stakeholder group to review the challenges and opportunities for Minnesota utilities to attract a skilled and diverse workforce.

Energy Storage System Pilot
Utilities may petition the PUC for cost recovery of an energy storage system pilot.

Energy Storage System Assessment in IRP
Utilities will consider energy storage systems as a resource option in their integrated resource plan modelling.

Energy Storage System Cost-Benefit Analysis (report due 12/31/19) The Department of Commerce will facilitate an RFP to study the costs and benefits of energy storage systems.

Pollinator Report for Solar Gardens
Solar systems that advertise to be pollinator friendly will now submit a reporting checklist verifying they have pollinator vegetation planted below the panels.