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Minnesota PUC Fines Xcel Energy $1 Million for Interconnection Failures

Gwendolyn Brown's picture
Communications Director Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

As Communications Director at IREC, Gwen works to promote awareness of IREC’s programs and successes to advance a 100% clean energy future that is resilient, reliable, and equitable. Prior to...

  • Member since 2020
  • 7 items added with 9,389 views
  • Jan 26, 2021

Interconnection, the process of connecting a solar installation or other distributed energy resource (DER) to the electric grid, is a critical step in the project development process. But around the country, interconnection is also a frequent pain point for clean energy developers and their customers. 

Cumbersome paperwork and slow approval times from the utility companies that must review and approve customers’ solar interconnection requests are one reason for this. Strikingly, there is almost no history of regulatory commissions holding utilities accountable for failures to meet their obligations under the interconnection procedures.  

A recent case in Minnesota exemplifies both the types of challenges to interconnection that clean energy projects can face and why these delays and other frustrations can be so damaging for consumers and businesses. The resolution, reached yesterday in a hearing of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, provides a win for Minnesota consumers and solar companies.

The Commission fined Xcel Energy $1 million for exceeding a threshold of complaints filed, many of which were about significant problems with Xcel’s interconnection process. It also provides a helpful precedent for how utility regulators can hold utilities accountable for providing an efficient interconnection process and good customer service to their ratepayers who are investing in solar and other clean energy technologies. 

In our latest blog post, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council provides an update on the regulatory case and its outcomes, and the significance of this decision in the context of clean energy interconnection challenges across the country. Check it out here. 

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