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Ralph Kaehler over 3 years ago

As an REA customer and a solar developer, I believe that the fees and tariffs should be suspended and investigated. This is merely a monthly tax to reduce the success/implementation of renewable energy by individuals. This fee (tax) increases the cost ($40-60/month) and makes the pay back 10-15% longer for those who move towards renewables.

There has no been a valid cost of service study done to justify the fees placed on renewable energy by the coops.

The investigation should include reviewing the counter-intuitive nature of the fees for individual members and to the mission statement of REA's who are to work for the member, not the coop itself.

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Bill Holzer over 3 years ago

I am an electric Cooperative Customer in Southeast Minnesota and I and request that you investigate these fees proposed by Utilities statewide! This fee is a re-occurring tax and will significantly, in a negative way, impact the use of renewable energy and the financial benefits of any kind of renewable energy. I support MNSEIA and Fresh Energy. This is simply an invention of the utilities to discourage renewables. I firmly believe this should be investigated.

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Pat Duncanson over 3 years ago

I am an REC member of BENCO and Steele Waseca in Blue Earth County. I think these fees serve as an unnecessary barrier to diversified renewable energy. These fees make it less attractive to install small local customer based facilites that are renewable and keep electical generation as a local asset for members. I think these fees should be investigated and do not serve the membership of the REC. Small solar has the potential to increase returns to the REC as solar is generated during daytime peak hours, and the customer consumes grid power during lower cost nightime hours. Line loss with locally produced power is also more efficient. I think these fees should be suspended until an investigation is complete.

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PAULA KING over 3 years ago

As an interested citizen and a supporter of Community solar and solar in general, and believe the fees are an unnecessary incumbrance to the expansion of solar renewable energy. As such, I request: 1. ​​Request that the PUC should investigate these fees and suspend them until further work is done. 2. That these fees are a tax and list the negative impact to you regarding your probability to include solar, and the impact upon cost of solar.​

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Ted Suss over 3 years ago

As a member of Redwood Electric, I find the imposition of a $37 per month fee for a solar installation a definite disincentive to proceeding with the installation. Perhaps a one time fee to offset any direct cost to the coop resulting from my installation would be acceptable. As a member, I already pay a minimum monthly fee regardless of the amount of electricity I purchase. If the net metering fee is intended to allow the coop to recover basic costs not related to amount of power a customer uses, then the monthly fee charged to every customer ought to be increased to be equal to the amount of the proposed net metering fee with the net metering fee eliminated.

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Mike Kunkel over 3 years ago

If Minnesota is truly interested in promoting renewable energy, I believe that someone should take a hard look at the “cost recovery fees” (tax??) that the REAs are asking for.

I am a soon to be retired electrical contractor. Late last year I seriously considered installing a 15KW solar system on my property. I thought that being in the business and having all the tools and equipment to do the install along with being able to buy the system and all additional materials necessary at wholesale that if anyone could “make the numbers work I could”. That was until I contacted my power supplier (BENCO). We heat with electricity and are on their “dual fuel rate” because of this I was told that I would have to connect the solar to the dual fuel meter at the lower rate. This would have extended the pay back by 175%. When asked why I was told to take it are leave it. And oh We are also going to add a new fee (tax?) just because we can, but we don’t know if it will be $10.00 or $100.00. The longer payback really made it hard to justify the investment, but additional fees really scared me. Needless to say I did not install any solar. omment...

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Vince Robinson over 3 years ago

I do not feel the RECs should be able to charge excess fees for net metered renewable energy projects. Their argument that they need to recover costs associated with the reduced kilowatt hours they sell is not compelling when you consider that they already charge monthly meter fees that are much greater than other electric utility providers. We have always been told that this higher meter fee is required to pay for the cost of providing service to dispersed areas of their service territory. As kilowatt hours of electricity are a variable cost to the RECs, I do not follow their reasoning behind needing to have a surcharge for renewable energy when they are already covering their service costs with the monthly meter fee. This additional surcharge only serves as a disincentive for renewable development so the RECs don't have to face the reality of a changing electrical production landscape. They are rooted in an antiquated business model and are reluctant to change their practices to accommodate what their customers are asking for. It is interesting that the RECs always remind us that they are owned by their members and work for the members best interest - at least until the members want to do things that threaten the RECs to change some of their business practices.

It is my understanding that the surcharge for renewable energy has been implemented by the REDs without the appropriate cost study. If this is the case, the surcharges should be suspended until a cost study is completed and the PUC has reviewed the study for its impact on both the RECs and the members that are wanting to develop renewable resources under the State's net metering laws. Minnesota has always been a leader in renewable energy development, but for some reason the RECs seem to be exempted from the rules the other utilities are required to play by. This needs to stop as renewable energy is need for the entire state, not just those portions of the state that are served by investor owned utilities.

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Mike Woodley over 3 years ago

I have searched for any documentation of how a solar customer is costing his cooperative as much as $86 per month especially when the member is only reducing how many kWH he purchases from his cooperative. These are not large companies. This $86 per month fee is being instituted on small family farms that want to use solar to be more competitive. Please consider suspending this fee, tax or punitive penalty until their can be a fair and balanced study to determine what additional cost, if any, that solar users should be charged to use a proven, safe and reliable form of reducing their purchase and reliance on coal-generated electricity. Thank you..

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Mark Margiotta over 3 years ago

Yes, the Commission should conduct an investigation.

As a solar developer who has met with local REAs considering this fee (tax), as well as countless customers, it represents unjustified deterrent to customers installing solar, and runs counter to the spirit of Minnesota's net metering rules which are designed to promote solar.

In addition to the net metering fee (tax), the Commission should also investigate additional add-on fees which REAs are attempting to implement. For example, Benco REA is requiring an additional $25/month charge for a "time of use cell phone meter on all accounts that require demand monitoring." Similar to Mike's comments above, we have worked with multiple customers who were told by their REAs that if they install solar, then they will lose existing discounts. This is a hidden tax, and a major deterrent for distributed solar installations.

REAs are owned by their members, and exist solely to serve those members, and currently these fees are disproportionately hurting those interested in taking more control of their energy costs. Some fee may very well be justified, but it needs to be reviewed and approved by the Commission so as to ensure it is fair to all impacted parties.

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Melody Jacobson over 3 years ago

The PUC should investigate these fees and suspend them until further work is done. These fees are a tax and list the negative impact to you regarding your probability to include solar, and the impact upon cost of solar.​

Why would you want to make it harder to get solar? We only have one planet & we're using up the resources pretty quickly. Solar is a WONDERFUL alternative & it's makes SUCH a huge impact. If you keep making it harder to get by putting fees on everything how are we going to be able to afford solar?

PLEASE don't do this. Solar has finally become more affordable for everyone & if you do this you're just going to take us backwards & make it harder

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Cindy Larson ONeil over 3 years ago

Yes, the Commission should conduct an investigation.

I work as a Project Manager helping people install roof top and ground mount solar. My customers are all kinds of people who are making a decision to do solar for a financial investment and/or environmental reasons.

Many customers are retired and on a fixed income. They are thoughtful about their financial planning and make decisions carefully. They feel betrayed by the idea of future fees and feel that it is unfair to change the rules regarding fees after their solar array has been installed. They have also told me that their neighbor's interest in solar is very tentative if not negative with these pending potential fees.

This issue does have a direct impact on my job and the job of my co-workers as it spreads fear and uncertainty in this industry and a halt to solar installs for folks that are in Coop areas. As a Minnesotan I am proud of the growth in this industry and do not want to see this type of unfair action dampen growth or damage our reputation as regional leaders.

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Eric Jensen over 3 years ago

Yes, these fees are actively impacting customers and slowing/stopping projects from happening. These fees need to be thoroughly reviewed and investigated.

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Brian Allen over 3 years ago

The PUC should investigate the "cost recovery fee" (TAX) that REA's are attampting to implement for those customers who install net metered solar arrays. As a solar integrator and business owner these fees will create a negative impact on the adoption of solar energy throughout REA territory.

If these fees are truly needed than the REA's should have no problem accurately showing their necessity through a Rate Study. Until each REA has completed a rate study all fees related to Cost Recorvery for net metered solar arrays should be suspended.

By conducting an appropriate investigation into these fees REA's will be able to accurately state their needs and the public will be able to accurately relay their concerns. It only makes sense to move forward with an investigation.

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Kristina Smitten over 3 years ago

I support Fresh Energy's request to investigate impact of fees and other tariff provisions, and to suspend these fees until further understanding is conducted. The fees are a tax and the likely result will further suppress the ability to provide and support solar energy in Minnesota.

Working in commercial development and as a private landowner I have continued to try to integrate solar on commercial buildings and as on option on private land, but the margins remain narrow and make feasibility very difficult. The economic impact to solar projects with these additional fees and tariffs should be understood before being implemented.

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John Larsen over 3 years ago

I strongly support Fresh Energy's request to investigate impact fees and other tarriff provisions and to suspend these fees. We need clean energy now and need to remove impediments whenever and wherever possible.

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Tony Houle over 3 years ago

These tariffs are just another way for the utility companies to line their pockets. Responsible Minnesotan's are going with renewable energy (Solar, Wind) and now are going to be penalized by their local utility company for doing so. In this case the Federal Government is incentivizing citizens to go with renewable energy but then the State is going to allow that incentive to be consumed by the utility companies. What a joke.

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Val DiEuliis over 3 years ago

As an electrical engineer and a homeowner who has invested in a solar photovoltaic project, I am a sincere proponent of the proliferation of solar energy production. I ask you to investigate the fees at issue in this topic and I ask you to suspend and recover any fees that have been assessed at least until this issue is resolved. These fees are very detrimental to the proliferation of solar energy systems because they increase the cost of producing solar energy and significantly increase the time it will take homeowners and investors to recoup their substantial initial investments. In my opinion, as a matter of policy, we should do everything possible to reduce the cost of solar energy and reduce the amount of time required to recoup initial investments in order stimulate these investments. Thank you for your consideration.

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Dan Prince over 3 years ago

These fees should be investigated and suspended. These fees are a tax against the very people who are trying to help solve the problem of climate change by generating their own green energy. We must encourage all forms of clean energy to meet the challenge of climate change, and these taxes would set back significantly the transition to a more responsible energy system.

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Belle Gerhard over 3 years ago

I support Fresh Energy's request to investigate impact fees and other tariff provisions, and to suspend these fees until due diligence is completed. Aren't we encouraging everyone to Save the planet? If someone wishes to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy, we should be cheering them on, not handing them an invoice for a Coop fee!

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Derek Meyers over 3 years ago

Yes, the PUC should suspend all fees on renewable energy systems. These fees discourage clean and reliable energy generation in MN. Until the health and environmental benefits of renewable energy systems are also included in the "costs" of renewable energy systems there is no conceivable way any electric cooperative is accurately accounting for what these fees should be. In fact, under the MN Value of Solar tariff, wouldn't solar energy, for one, actually generate a credit and not a tax from the electric cooperatives? Why can't this system be used for REAs? The PUC needs to address this issue straight away.

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Terry Johnson over 3 years ago

I think a cost recovery fee is the worst idea for the promotion of solar power in our state. This will discourage people from even considering solar. I think local REAs are already collecting enough fees for the services they provide. I think all further fees should be investigated and all fees should be indefinitely suspended. Electric companies don't want competition and that is why this is even being discussed. This will have a negative impact on clean solar power installs in our state if approved. PUC do the right thing and deny these fees indefinitely.

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George Kraemer over 3 years ago

The PUC should not allow fees and taxes on renewable energy systems. Nevada has effectively destroyed the implementation of solar systems in the state with excessive fees. An investigation should be undertaken before any fees structure is implemented. I am a member of the Meeker Cooperative and object to theses fees.

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Russ Czapar over 3 years ago

I recently signed up to get a solar system placed on my residence because of the benefits to the environment as well as a lower electric bill. The recovery fee will only cause people like myself to not invest in solar. The recovery fee seems completely against what the state of Minnesota is trying to achieve, which is increasing solar and clean energy. This will only decrease solar in MN, so this in itself does not even make sense as it would not increase solar. Basically if the recovery fee is passed it means that Minnesota is going against its goal of increasing solar in the state. The electric companies charge enough fees, it is time to say enough with the fees and help our state go green and meet its goal.

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Tom Langreck over 3 years ago

The PUC should investigate and suspend these fees as they discourage the progress of renewable energy and are not backed up by accurate measurable costs. Renewable energy benefits everyone now and into the future in one way or another. It should not be discouraged through unreasonable and inaccurate fees that have not been vetted.

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Michael Bailey about 3 years ago

I firmly believe that there should be an investigation and all fees should be suspended. I am concerned that this will effectively prevent people from obtaining solar energy for their homes and businesses. I myself do not have solar yet and have been interested in obtaining it. Looking at what is being discussed I fear that if these fees (taxes) go uninvestigated and are allowed to go into effect that it will effectively change my and others minds considering obtaining solar energy on a personal level. Electric companies are collecting enough fees for the services they provide. Let us not discourage the benefits of renewable energy.

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Kristen Sachwitz about 3 years ago

The PUC should definitely investigate and suspend all fees in response to solar energy. Shifting to a different, renewable energy source should be encouraged. REAs are discouraging renewable energy solutions with recovery fees and the like,

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Matt Greeninger about 3 years ago

As a proud employee of a solar installation company, I believe that these fees should be suspended for investigation. Renewable energy needs to be embraced as much as possible, and utilize as many suitable roof spaces as possible. Our customers not only benefit from knowing that they are providing clean energy for their homes and any excess energy goes back onto the utility grid, but also because of the fact that their electric bills get drastically reduced by use of net metering. These proposed fees would virtually cancel out those financial benefits, and hinder the advancement of renewable energy.

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Maria Allen about 3 years ago

As a project manager who helps and facilitates customers through the process of going solar there is no doubt the PUC should be investigated and all fees should be suspended These fees should be stopped and discouraged as it only discourages the progress of renewable energy. I really hope these messages are heard and the fees are suspended. Thank you.

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Michael Shen about 3 years ago

I support that the PUC needs to suspend and investigate any fees implemented on their customers pursuing renewable energy. I work as a solar specialist and talk to customers everyday who are interested about going solar for their home, but many scared away by their own utility imposing fees for choosing a cleaner option for their energy. It is unfair when their only other option is blocked by their own utility. These fees are a unjustified and go against the plans for Minnesota to become a renewable energy leader. These fees do not provided the necessary data to support their implementation onto their customers. Not only are they going against the state's renewable agenda, but they also are not listening to their customers who desire a cleaner solution for their energy needs.

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stan lauseng about 3 years ago

I am a resident of Anoka Co. 1 1/2yrs ago I had installed a ground mount solar array of 13.5 kw I already pay a solar fee (tax) for installing my system. It seems to me that without any kind of formal study, adding an additional tax would be very regressive and discouraging to people contemplating installing solar. I truly believe any (tax) should be investigated, and deemed to be reasonable, or rejected. I recently heard a quote that I thought was appropriate, the American Indian says " we don't inherit the earth from our fathers, we borrow it from our grandchildren" We all breathe the same air, and drink the same water, lets all get on the clean train and give our grandchildren the best future we can. ( toot, toot) thanks for your time. Stan Lauseng

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Rick Behncke about 3 years ago

I Live in Freeborn County and am currently waiting to have a Solar System installed. I put it on hold until this is resolved. I truly believe any (tax) should be investigated. With the fee I was quoted it doesn't make sense to have this system installed. I totally contest this and hope it is deemed unfair. Thanks Rick Behncke

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Mena Kaehler about 3 years ago

Yes, please suspend the fees. I am both an REA (Tri County) member and Co-owner of a Century Owned Family Farm. These fees negatively impact those working to decrease their bottom line as well as leave our world a better place for our children. There has not been any hard evidence to justify these costs, only speculation. We need to work off of fact. By pulling our power first from the solar array, during peak times, we actually put less stress on the grid at its most stressed time, which will result in a longer lived infrastructure. . . perhaps solar array owners should be paid for decreasing traffic on the grid. :)

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Kristina Smith about 3 years ago

It's not fair that the individual who invests in the clean future of all its neighbors is subjected to a fee for only them for their forward thinking. These fees should be stopped immediately. Any research done as to what impact solar has on the utility should only be conducted by a third party.

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sarah whebbe about 3 years ago

The PUC should suspend all grid fees on renewable energy systems until such time that all cooperative utilities planning to implement a fee can demonstrate the need for a "solar tax" with accurate rate studies are that completed by impartial 3rd parties. Working in solar, I have seen a distinct chilling effect occur for all of our cooperative customers in this last year. The cooperative utilities have firmly planted themselves in the way of anyone interested in going solar. By sending out propaganda to their customers about "the cost of solar to the grid", refusing to provide transparent information on any planned fee's or rate studies, and in some extreme cases outright discouraging someone interested in solar from looking at their options, the cooperative utilities are limiting their customers right to purchase their own clean energy resources.

What's more, they are discouraging the adoption of renewable energy in Minnesota at time when we are working to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. Future generations are depending on the work we do right now to remove the roadblocks to a clean energy future, yet the REA industry group is actively working to put more barriers in place.

Without real rate studies to substantiate the need for a large grid tax, we can only assume that these extreme fee's are being used to line the pockets of the utility executives. My hope is that the PUC acts now to protect the best interests of all MN energy consumers and the integrity of all MN cooperative utilities.

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Carolyn Pennisi about 3 years ago

I support Fresh Energy's request to investigate impact fees and other tariff provisions, and to suspend these fees until due diligence is completed. We, as a society, need to make carbon/pollution more expensive, and renewables more attractive, for the sake of our own future, and everyone else's. Tax carbon.

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Linda Remucal about 3 years ago

I am a supporter of renewable energy and solar, specifically. I believe the fees are an unnecessary incumbrance to the expansion of solar renewable energy. As such, I request: 1. ​​ That the PUC should investigate these fees and suspend them until further work is done. 2. That these fees are a tax and list the negative impact to you regarding your probability to include solar, and the impact upon cost of solar.​

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Michael Allen about 3 years ago

Please investigate these fees. The fees that many of these municipals and cooperatives are not realistic and carry no weight with regards to the studies that most of them did not do. These fees are designed to stop solar vs analyze the real cost that solar adds or removes from the grid. Each and every grid is different but yet they all have the same fees... We should take a smart, pragmatic approach to this analysis before allowing fees to be implemented that will stiffel or even eliminate customer interest in solar energy. Please take the appropriate regulatory approach and investigate each and everyone of these fees. Thank you for your consideration.

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Darren Juilfs about 3 years ago

Yes -- the Commission must investigate these additional fees for connecting a solar installation to the grid. It seems obvious that these fees are meant to throw cold water on the rapidly accelerating solar market in order to slow it down due to a fear of the unknown. Those with a vested interest in our existing fuels can see the writing on the wall and don't want to change. In my opinion, pv solar needs to be accelerated even more!

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Cathy Juilfs about 3 years ago

The commission should definitely be investigating the fees and suspend them until evidence exists that they are fair to the consumers. What frustrates me most is that the electric coop we use has a monopoly and most do in the state. We can't go to Excel Energy, a provider that services nearby and be rewarded for thinking progressively. Instead we have to battle with our coop for any green initiative. They are either unwilling or lack the evidence behind the rational for the fees which is frustrating to a person that values science based decision making. They do not seem to understand that we will be providing power to them at a lower cost during the workdays when we are at work for 12 hours a day. It's impossible as a consumer to battle a monopoly and it is the commissions duty to protect from such behavior.

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Eric Knutson about 3 years ago

the fees and tariffs should be suspended and investigated. I would like to have solar one day but extra taxes and fees would cause me to think twice

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Vernon Stenswick about 3 years ago

I believe the commission should be investigating these fees. Under net metering, the utility pays a person for excess production of electricity with electricity when the solar panels are not producing enough. Xcel Energy has a peak-off peak rate in which during the summer they sell electricity for $0.18/kwh during the day, and $0.03/kwh at night. So for a homeowner with solar panels, Xcel is taking their excess production and selling it for $0.18, and then paying the homeowner with electricity that they value at $0.03. Why do they need an added fee when they are making a nice profit off of the investment of one of their customers?

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Mark Anderson about 3 years ago

Please investigate these fees and eliminate them until their necessity and effect are known. When allocating a business class, here a utility, the opportunity to have a localized monopoly for the benefit of the business and people of that area, those people have the right to understand the operating costs and profits of the businesses their generosity and self-interest created. When coal was used to make electricity it made sense to have one place burn it and clean up the mess, rather than have smoke stacks all over the city. Solar technology allows us to create energy where we use it cleanly, with less infrastructure investment, maintenance and generation losses of distribution. These unnecessary and unwarranted fees are an attempt to limit the growth of the next logical step in energy production, savings, resource conservation and improvement in public health. Burning 3 units of energy to put one unit of usable energy onsite isn't prudent, wise, nor sustainable. If there were a tax on that 2 units out of 3 waste ratio we would have distributed energy quickly, since the obvious benefits don't appear to be sense enough. And besides," You don't have to burn gas to power something that doesn't move.©"

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Dan Allosso about 3 years ago

Mr. Anderson makes an important point, which the advocates of free markets should keep in mind. Pubic Utilities have been granted monopolies and have been given the privilege of running power lines over public rights of way. They owe the public something in return.

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Joe Lambrecht about 3 years ago

As an interested citizen and a member of a REC, solar and solar power in general should never be taxed or a stumbling block be placed in front or behind for the bottom line of profits. I believe the fees are an unnecessary incumbrance to the expansion of solar renewable energy. As such, I request: 1. ​​Request that the PUC should investigate these fees and suspend them until further work is done. 2. That these fees are a tax and list the neg

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jeffrey flaten about 3 years ago

I'm writing to express my concerns regarding the issue of solar energy production and the negative impact the "cost recovery fee" will have on individuals and businesses within cooperatives and municipal utilities. I believe this state is at the cusp of ding great things with solar energy production, and the PUC shouldn't allow arbitrary fees to be implemented without proper scrutiny and input from the public. I participate in the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, and I can't imagine paying a fee or tax every month to a cooperative or municipal utility. What incentive would there be to participate if the meager savings are offset by a fee? I had to come up with the money for my project first before reaping any savings in the long-term. This fee, I believe, will have the consequence of discouraging individuals or businesses to invest in solar. Furthermore, the installers and businesses that make solar panels in this state will be impacted. Why does the PUC want to potentially stifle competition and not allow the a new industry to grow? The goal is to raise solar production in the state and also lower energy costs for the consumer, correct? Set aside the political debate about using older technology and the greenhouse gases produced to generate that electricity, the solar industry is now the wave of the future. So, with that in mind, I'm requesting the PUC investigate these fees and suspend them for the time being. Appreciate it.

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Dan Allosso about 3 years ago

I urge the Commission to take a very hard look at any additional fees the industry seeks to impose on the adoption of renewable energy. As a resident of Northern Minnesota, I'm already working with an electricity distributor (Beltrami Electric) which is on record as being an opponent of grid-attached decentralized renewable energy. Although my local distributor is nominally a cooperative, it is part of Touchstone Energy, which operates far more like a traditional energy corporation than like a member-owned coop. I have no doubt that Beltramin Electric and similar providers will drag their feet just as long as possible before altering their status quo operations. Imposing a tax that will discourage consumer investment in renewables will provide incentive for companies to resist change. You would be subsidizing resistance to changes everybody knows are necessary when you should be subsidizing the changes. If the power companies REALLY need public assistance to make the change to renewables and a smart grid, we should consider giving it to them. But not in the form of punishing early adopters.

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Jake Wanek about 3 years ago

Yes, I support MSEIA and Fresh Energy and believe that an investigation is warranted. During the investigation, these fees should be suspended until further work is conducted. These extras fees are a tax and have a negative impact on future subscribers as well as an impact on the overall cost of solar.

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Scott Woitas about 3 years ago

PUC must review these fees which are a tax and another way for REA to force their customers to buy power and not to produce clean power. I have been producing solar power for almost two years and would not have installed my system if this tax was in place then. If these fees are imposed it will greatly reduce the production of clean solar power by individuals and make it only something large corporations can afford.

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Peter Metzger about 3 years ago

As everyone above has made clear, these unnecessary "fees" are not only unjustified in their own right, but clearly serve as a strong disincentive for businesses and individuals wishing to look toward clean energy solutions. As has been stated repeatedly, transition to clean solar is the type of thing that should be supported, and at the very least that means the absence of unwarranted taxes on people trying to do the right thing. This practice should be investigated and I support MSEIA and Fresh Energy.

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Lora Abraham about 3 years ago

I believe the PUC should look into these fees.. I'd like to be a solar customer who receives the benefits of this product, not to join another tax based product. These fees are a negative impact for future customers.

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Matt Dovenberg about 3 years ago

Likewise, I believe these fees should be investigated and eliminated. As a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, I feel it is in the best interest of the state, and the entire country, to promote renewable energies. These renewable energies have both financial and environmental benefits. These fees that the utilities are implementing are greatly reducing the reach and limiting the benefits of installing solar/wind energy. This practice should be eliminated so that our state and our people can benefit from clean, renewable energy.

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Burton Laine about 3 years ago

I think the fees should be investigated and suspended until the investigation is done. I'm on the Lake Country Power system, and although it is not listed with this case, they have already implemented a $42 service availability charge. This alone set me back on further exploring having solar on our farm. When I heard that other cooperatives were implementing a cost recovery fee, I knew I could never implement solar cost effectively.

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Mary Jo Cristofaro about 3 years ago

Dear Public Utilities Commission,

I am currently the co- chair for Northfield Area Community Solar, a group of citizens concerned about the dangerous levels of carbon in the atmosphere. We are from the Northfield /Faribault area and have gathered to promote community solar projects that provide a healthy renewable energy choice to consumers in southern Minnesota and across the state.

Whether it is community solar gardens or other solar arrays going up in Minnesota, we are very troubled by the thought that these “cost recovery fees” that are being imposed on the developers, will indeed raise the cost of solar for consumers. We also believe that it will negatively impact the amount of solar that can be installed throughout the state.

It is imperative that the PUC investigate how the “cost of service studies” has been converted into “cost recovery fees” and its legitimacy, as well as how these fees will have a direct negative impact on small solar power production. Such fees have been promoted by utilities in various places throughout the country largely as a means of pushing up the costs of energy the utility does not sell, such as rooftop solar, and forcing consumers to purchase the dirty energy (even when mixed with renewable sources) the utility provides. We trust that in your job as the Public Utilities Commission and your responsibility in protecting us ratepayers and the public, that you will investigate the trickle-down effect to subscribers and have the best of intentions for the citizens of Minnesota in deciphering these variables.

We appreciate you hearing our comments and ask that you suspend these fees while taking an in-depth look at how they negatively impact “growing solar” and negatively impact those of us wanting a healthy energy choice and ultimately a healthier atmosphere. Please do not let these fees undermine all that has taken place thus far, for what Minnesotan’s value as important strides in moving us away from dirty energy production, that has been imposed on us and has been imported into our state. Creating our own renewable energy in Minnesota, for Minnesotans with fair and equitable costs is something to be proud of.

Thank you for your all support of solar as a healthy energy choice for Minnesotans.

Sincerely, Mary Jo Cristofaro Northfield Area Community Solar mjcristofaro@gmail.com

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Abhilasha Purwar about 3 years ago

With opaque and inconsistent bill structure, we run the risk of incentivizing economically and environmentally harmful behaviour or disincentivizing the viceversa. In particular $50 fixed cost for solar system would serve as a strong disincentive towards clean power generation. I request that the PUC should further investigate the true costs incurred, the structure of the fees, and implement a robust and transparent system which can ensure the recovery of utilities costs, while also promoting and expanding clean energy generation movement.

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Michelle Medina about 3 years ago

On behalf of Minnesota Farmers Union, we are in full agreement that the Commission should investigate the fees and other tariff provisions filed by utilities under Minn. Stat. §216B.164. According to Subdivision 3 of Minn. Stat. §216B.164, “Any additional charge by the utility must be reasonable and appropriate for that class of customer based on the most recent cost of service study.” The burden of proof therefore lies on these utilities, which have not proven through their cost of service studies that the fees are reasonable or appropriate. Minnesota Farmers Union supports efforts in our country to attain energy self-sufficiency, and see renewable energy in rural Minnesota as a benefit to our state.

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Marian Kaehler about 3 years ago

To allow these fees on those progressive enough to invest in solar energy is a disservice both short- and long-term. I grew up in Minnesota, live in Iowa just across the border, and still have family in the state. Minnesota has been a leader in renewable energy, enabling a 'marriage' between agricultural and sustainable energy initiatives. This high and unjustified fee is detrimental to that leadership's efforts and it should be suspended - and hopefully denied upon investigation. Minnesota should sustain its role as a progressive model for the country, by not allowing nonrenewable energy companies to manipulate and benefit from the potential savings of renewable energy sources.

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Brian Bakalyar about 3 years ago

Yes, I support MSEIA and Fresh Energy and believe that an investigation is warranted. During the investigation, these fees should be suspended until further work is conducted. These fees are costing local jobs.

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Rick Tisdale about 3 years ago

I find the additional fees a step backwards. Lets look at two utility clients. Client one installs a solar array and reduces their consumption when the consumption on the grid is highest in the middle of the day. He accomplishes by investing his own money to purchase a solar array. Client two also reduces his consumption but does it by installing more efficient appliances, LED bulbs, air conditioning and maybe even an electric hot water heater that the utility company paid for. The investment in more efficient items in their home are offset by rebates by the utility company.

Now the utility company wants to charge the person who installed solar a tax. You call this fair? The real issue is that the utility company is worried that about their little kingdom and will make every effort to prevent progress. They will implement programs like hot water heaters for free to increase the clients demand. They are not worried about their clients as they claim.They are worried their revenues will go down or they may become the next Kodak with advances in technology.

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Ryan Buege about 3 years ago

Yes, these fees need further investigation. The fees are unbelievably shortsighted. For example, it does not make sense that someone who uses all energy produced on-site would be charged a fee from the utility. Any fee structure needs to consider both the costs and benefits of adding solar energy to the grid. These fees are holding back progress in MN and are costing the state dearly short term and long term.

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Ben Granley about 3 years ago

Yes, I support MnSEIA and Fresh Energy and believe that an investigation is warranted. During the investigation, these fees should be suspended until further work is conducted. These fees are costing local jobs.

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Brandon Charboneau about 3 years ago

There has been extensive studies done on the value of solar in MN. The fees proposed and instituted do not have any justification, and thus should be reviewed and reversed.

This will eliminate peoples ability to co-generate through out all of MN. This also effects greatly local industry and local jobs in MN.

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Paul Schwarzrock about 3 years ago

Yes! Investigate these fees. And get rid of this Tax! As an Solar customer I believe that the fees and tariffs should be suspended and investigated. This fee tax makes the pay back 10-15% longer for those who move towards making a better future with Clean Energy.

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Harlan McColley about 3 years ago

comment...Yes, these fees need to be investigated as they are a major deterrent to the feasibility of a solar system. Thus we are delaying the use of clean energy and costing our local economies jobs.

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Greg Haas about 3 years ago

comment...Yes...I support MNSEIA and Fresh Energy and believe that a investigation is needed. We need to continue job growth that this industry has started in Minnesota and also promote a viable and affordable clean energy source for Minnesotans.

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David Eid about 3 years ago
  I am writing today to voice my concern over the actions of several Minnesota utility cooperatives in relation to renewable energy. I own a small Solar Development company in western Minnesota called Energy Initiatives and Design. I have been involved with permitting and inter-connecting of small renewable energy projects in Minnesota for over 5 years. We have, in nearly all cases, utilized Minnesota statute 216b and the Standardized Contract for Cogeneration. In recent months, the standard contract and the spirit of cogeneration in Minnesota has come under increased attack by the utilities.
 Utilities have recently taken a position that the standard contract for cogeneration can be altered at their will. For example, Meeker cooperative have told prospective solar customers that a 20kw solar system would be charged an additional $56 per month fee for solar, on top of their existing meter charge. This is completely unreasonable and unacceptable. It would effectively shut down any solar development in Minnesota if allowed to continue. Already, it has caused one of our prospective customers to decide not to proceed with solar development for their farming operation. This is a travesty and should not be allowed to continue.
   I believe that as a regulated monopoly, the utilities should be forced to carry out the will of the public and their desire for clean, renewable energy. I highly encourage the Minnesota Public Utility Commission to protect Minnesota citizens' right to develop and enjoy their own renewable energy. Please investigate the fees being charged by the utilities. Please stop the fees until it can be fully investigated.
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Steve Cady about 3 years ago

I am an electric Cooperative Customer in Central Minnesota and I and request that you investigate these fees proposed by Utilities statewide! This fee is a re-occurring tax and will significantly, in a negative way, impact the use of renewable energy and the financial benefits of any kind of renewable energy. I support MNSEIA and Fresh Energy. This is simply an invention of the utilities to discourage renewables. I firmly believe this should be investigated.

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Joshua Quinlivan about 3 years ago

As a contractor dealing in many areas of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies, I believe these charges to be unwarranted without a proper cost of service study performed by all cooperatives. As others have stated, I feel like these coops are operating on an antiquated business model and are implementing this tax/fee/tariff to deter “member/owners”, which for all intents and purposes are only customers with little say in the matters of the cooperative, from making a forward thinking and environmentally sound decision to reduce their carbon footprint.

The cooperatives seem to operate under their own set of rules because they are “not for profit”. My personal opinion is that the PUC should hold them to some of the same standards as IOU’s when it comes to percentages of total generation coming from clean sources and as a member/owner of said utility I should be able to contribute to that without being charged a fee and somehow the utility and the member/owner should both benefit. It seemed to benefit the utility, customer, contractors, economy and the environment when we were installing clean technology under an IOU. That all came to a halt in our area as soon as the IOU sold its territory to a group of cooperatives. It seems the cooperatives are much more interested in solar when they are building their own solar farms and have control of said system. To me there are more benefits than harm to their/our system, such as helping with line loss, reducing peak demand (which is very taxing on the system) and providing a non-fossil fuel energy source. Some of this money that comes back in form of capital credits needs to be mandated to cover these costs, whatever they may be. Quite often there is a higher monetary cost when it comes to “green” initiatives and it’s our responsibility to step up to the plate and make the right decision, not the cheap one. Sure burning coal and other fossil fuels is cheap and the infrastructure is there, but can we really put a price on the future of our environment? As an individual, if I spend the upfront capital to be environmentally conscious, why should I be taxed on that decision. The PUC needs to speak on behalf of the people and tighten up the reigns on the cooperatives as they did the IOU’s in the past, and push mandates through in order to accomplish this. Do I think it’s right that they spend all kinds of money on advertising to reduce peak alerts instead of reinvesting this in clean energy technologies? No. Do I have a say? Not really, but the answer to me seems quite simple. Invest in clean energy technologies through rebates and subsidies and this problem will help solve itself.

The following is the Vison, Mission and Values statement from a member cooperative that serves my area (this is verbatim): “Vision, Mission and Values Vision To exceed member expectations as a safe, sustainable premier power cooperative. Mission We will power our communities and empower cooperative members to improve the quality of their lives. Values Our members are the reason for our existence. We will provide our members with value in the form of safe, reliable sustainable and competitively-priced electricity. We will build strong relationships with our member cooperatives, employees and all stakeholders. We will live the cooperative principles and hold ourselves true to our core values of accountability, integrity, innovation and commitment to community.”

I can read what they’re saying, and it sounds good, but the only part their principles that they’re following when it comes to these fees, is the part about the price of the electricity. The rest of it leans more towards community responsibility, quality of life and sustainability. These to me are the core reasons for clean energy technology, and to deter forward thinking and responsible action though the form of a tax is just plain wrong, especially when they won’t clearly state how they came to the basis of their fee structure.

Please investigate the fees and other tariff provisions and please suspend all charges until a cost of service study can be formed. Please push for mandates for cooperatives to spend a certain percentage of their extra capital in the form of rebate dollars and subsidies for clean energy technology. I can, for one, tell you that the flow of clean energy projects has almost come to a halt due to backward thinking policies from some of these REA’s. Otherwise we will see a negative impact on the environment and economy.

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John Mertes about 3 years ago

Yes, I support MSEIA and Fresh Energy and believe that an investigation is warranted.

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Ryan Fleming about 3 years ago

I have been a proponent of solar since the 80's and strongly feel that the recent push toward renewable energy has made an impact in the efficiency of the technology. In order to not take steps backward by issuing disincentives to potential small power producers, the PUC should investigate these fees (Taxes) and suspend them until further work is done.

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Andy Vo about 3 years ago

I strongly agree that these fees and other tariff provisions be investigated. They are not justified; they are unwarranted. They are negatively impacting both customers and installers, stunting the growth of clean energy and our economy.

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Randy Moberg about 3 years ago

Yes, I support MNSEIA, Fresh Energy, and local business invested in the Minnesota Solar market. I believe that an investigation is warranted. During the investigation, these fees should be suspended until further work is conducted. These fees are harming future expansion of solar in Minnesota and significantly reducing Minnesota jobs.

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Jessie Shocinski about 3 years ago

I support MNSEIA / Fresh Energy and believe an investigation is warranted by the PUC of these fees and they should be suspended until further work is done. These fees are a tax and will have a negative impact toward my decision on whether or not to move forward with having solar panels installed on our roof.

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Dave Fries about 3 years ago

The PUC should 1000% percent investigate the Cost Recovery Fee that REA's are attempting to implement for those customers who install net metered solar arrays. As a solar integrator/wholesaler of products these fees will create a negative impact on the adoption of solar energy throughout REA territory. I have documented the Negative effects on new business opportunities and creation of Jobs for integrators of Renewable Energy Systems this new policy has created.

Until each REA has completed a rate study all fees related to Cost Recorvery for net metered solar arrays should be suspended. The uncertainty these changes have created has caused many members of the individual Co-op's to become angry at the process and unclear on how these NEW fees are calculated and created. Imagine signing a long term contract with your Power Provided only to have it drastically altered in a Negative way without a clear Cost Benefit Analysis as to why the Utility needed to make these corrections.

By conducting an appropriate investigation into these fees REA's will be able to accurately state their needs and the public will be able to respond with their concerns. I request the Commission to move forward with an Investigation and Suspend ALL Fees.

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Elizabeth Dovenberg about 3 years ago

I request that these fees are investigated and suspended. They act as a tax and would directly affect the probability of me including solar power due to their impact on the cost of solar. I support MZSEIA / Fresh Energy and strongly believe that an investigation into these fees is warranted. Thank you.

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Matt Dovenberg about 3 years ago

I highly recommend that this article be read by those with decision making abilities. Link: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2016/05/23-rooftop-solar-net-metering-muro-saha

A few copy/paste excerpts from the article include: "For instance, a review of 11 net metering studies by Environment America Research and Policy Center has found that distributed solar offers net benefits to the entire electric grid through reduced capital investment costs, avoided energy costs, and reduced environmental compliance costs. Eight of the 11 studies found the value of solar energy to be higher than the average local residential retail electricity rate: The median value of solar power across all 11 studies was nearly 17 cents per unit, compared to the nation’s average retail electricity rate of about 12 cents per unit."

"In 2014 Minnesota’s Public Utility Commission approved a first-ever statewide “value of solar” methodology which affirmed that distributed solar generation is worth more than its retail price and concluded that net metering undervalues rooftop solar. The “value of solar” methodology is designed to capture the societal value of PV-generated electricity. The PUC found that the value of solar was at 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)—which was 3 to 3.5 cents more per kilowatt than Xcel's retail rates—when other metrics such as the social cost of carbon, the avoided construction of new power stations, and the displacement of more expensive power sources were factored in."

Putting these fees on solar installations are greatly reducing the positive impact that the solar energy can have, especially in the state of Minnesota. I strongly encourage and suggest an investigation into these fees. The fees are restricting our state's economy and energy independence. While examining these fees, one must remember to compare the cost of what else could be used and how harmful that substance could be to the environment. As a Minnesota resident, I am hopeful the state makes the right decision - and saves green by going green!

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Terrie Wheeler about 3 years ago

As consumers currently in the process of making a very large investment in a solar array for our home, it is unfathomable to me that the PUC would consider the adoption of a regulation that would impose punitive fees on households investing in solar energy by requiring us to pay our electric company for the privilege of becoming more self-sufficient. The PUC should be encouraging consumers and providing even more incentives to "go solar," rather than discussing a possible fee that would minimize the positive impact of solar energy.

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