ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Plus Storage In Minnesota’s Landmark Grid Modernization
As Xcel pushes non-wire alternatives, solar+storage pilot sparks utility ownership debate; Everyone loves that Xcel Minnesota is considering DERs instead of traditional infrastructure, but not that the utility wants to own them itself
Herman K. Trabish, March 3, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Minnesota’s commission continues to work at a nation-leading grid modernization effort.
Xcel Energy Minnesota wants state regulators to move ahead quickly on a solar-plus-storage pilot as part of the investor-owned utility’s grid modernization proceeding. It asked for special cost recovery from its rate base for building a distributed energy resource (DER) facility at a location in the city of Belle Plaine to defer a traditional substation upgrade. Xcel also wants the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to approve $27 million for its Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS), which would add new software and smart capabilities to its Minnesota distribution grid.
Filings from other stakeholders in the grid modernization docket applaud Xcel for considering DER investments as an alternative to traditional grid infrastructure, but also raise questions over the regulated utility's plan to own and operate the solar-plus-storage station itself, rather than allowing a third party to do so. Stakeholders that include the Energy Freedom Coalition of America (EFCA), a group led and co-founded by leading rooftop solar installer SolarCity, agree kind of non-wire alternative (NWA) to traditional utility infrastructure investment, typified by the landmark Brooklyn Queen Demand Management Program, can lead to ratepayer savings and grid benefits. But they recommend the Commission reject Xcel’s project and argue the utility can get even more savings by opening the market to private parties to bid in to solve the problem… click here for more