Minnesota's net-metering law, enacted in 1983, applies to all investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and rural electric cooperatives. Qualifying facilities of less than 1,000 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for net metering. However, uniform interconnection regulations were not implemented when net metering was established.
In response to state legislation enacted in 2001, in September 2004 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted an order establishing generic standards for utility tariffs for interconnection and the operation of distributed-generation facilities up to 10 megawatts (MW) in capacity. The PUC standards contain technical requirements related to engineering studies, mandatory minimum insurance requirements for different sized systems, equipment certification definitions, a dispute resolution process, and standard application fees. The PUC has approved compliance tariffs filed by the state's investor-owned utilities. Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives were required to adopt a tariff that addresses the issues included in the PUC's order.
During the 2013 legislative session, the Legislature amended Minn. Stat. § 216B.164 governing cogeneration and small power production. The statute governs interconnections between qualifying facilities and utilities, and the statutory changes primarily affect interconnections with public utilities.The changes increase the net-metering capacity threshold capacity for facilities interconnecting to a public utility. Under the changes, the threshold increases to less than 1,000 kilowatts (kW) from less than 40 kW.
The PUC has developed a streamlined, uniform interconnection application and a process that addresses safety, economics, and reliability issues. Effective July 1, 2014, utilities are required to collect the following information on customers applying for interconnection of distributed renewable generation and report it to the PUC: the nameplate capacity, the preincentive installed cost and cost components of the generation system, the energy source, and the ZIP code (Minn. Stat. § 216B. 1611, subd. 4). The PUC is required to make non-project specific data available to the public.
In 2011, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources started a review process of all distributed generation procedures, conducting stakeholder meetings and workshops, and accepting comments. Details can be found on the program web site listed above.