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Amelia Kroeger about 4 years ago

Re low-income access to community solar gardens It makes good sense for the PUC to ensure that Community Solar Gardens are accessible to and benefit all Minnesotans, including low-income access. Please strongly recommend and encourage (without a mandate, but that could be the next step without cooperation) that developers ensure inclusion of low-income people - they know about and have access to Community Solar Gardens. Thank you.

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Stephen Sylvester about 4 years ago

My name is Stephen Sylvester. I am lead pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines. Because we believe global climate change is a frightening reality and because we are called to live justly with our neighbors, Our Savior’s believes we should move to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible and do so in a way that all Minnesotans benefit. The expansion of small and medium scale Community Solar Gardens is crucial for both of these goals. In the present energy scenario, the great majority of Minnesotans are consumers and customers. Community Solar Gardens hold great potential for a future in which we are instead producers and stakeholders.

Xcel Energy claims it would not work well to add a truly significant number of small and medium scale Community Solar Gardens to the existing electrical infrastructure. Xcel makes this claim, of course, because they wish to benefit from retaining control of the production and distribution of energy. It is for that reason that Xcel Energy envisions a Corporate Solar Farm model in which large corporations and Xcel itself would develop huge tracts of land for energy production. If we are looking to repeat past environmental mistakes and continue Xcel’s financial monopoly the Corporate Solar Farm model would be the way to proceed.

The great majority of the Minnesotans, however, would rather pursue an energy future that would be more gentle on the earth and would more highly value community involvement and distributed ownership. In the Twin Cities metro area alone, think of the rooftop space available for photovoltaic cells if we were to place them on the roofs of homes, small businesses, school buildings and churches. How all of these energy generating sites would require interconnection by a grid or grids is a technical problem Minnesotans could certainly solve. The work of pursuing a solution to that problem would have the effect of bringing us together as a community of citizens instead of leaving us to flounder individually as consumers. I strongly urge the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to move us in this direction by encouraging Xcel Energy to greatly increase partnerships that would result in significantly more small and medium size Community Solar Gardens.

As we move toward a future of 100% renewable energy, I also encourage the Public Utilities Commission to ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of income, race or housing situation, be able to participate fully in our energy transition. This can be done best by encouraging the development of on-bill repayment financing and expanding the back-up subscriber model. Thoughtfully developing these models would ensure that all Minnesotans would be able to invest in and benefit from our move toward a future of 100% renewable energy. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on these important issues.

The Rev. Stephen Sylvester Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Circle Pines, MN

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