Municipal Power Agency Bill Pulled from Agenda

Legislation that would subject municipal power agencies to the open meeting law (SF 978) was originally scheduled for a hearing on Friday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thanks to lobbying efforts and MMUA members’ swift outreach, notifying the committee of the harmful effects such legislation would have on MPA’s contractual negotiations, the bill was removed from the agenda. The committee chair indicated he did not have time to hear a controversial bill that wasn’t moving in the House. While this is welcome news, we should not celebrate too early. Legislative maneuvers remain that could allow this issue to resurface. MMUA Government Relations staff will continue to monitor this issue and keep members apprised.

Legislation to Require Legislative Approval of State’s CPP Implementation Plan Heard in Both Bodies

On Monday, the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee heard legislation (HF 333) which would require legislative approval of the MPCA’s implementation plan for compliance with the Clean Power Plan. Bill author Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) noted that several states are taking similar steps against the EPA’s sweeping regulatory action.

Otter Tail Power, MREA, the MN Chamber, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal testified in support of the bill, rehashing the unfair treatment of Minnesota in the EPA’s proposed rule. The MPCA testified against the bill, saying they preferred allowing the MPCA stakeholder process to develop an implementation plan. They also expressed concern with the added time legislative approval would require and the wish to avoid an EPA-imposed plan. The bill was passed and re-referred to the Ways and Means Committee. One DFL member from the Iron Range joined the GOP in supporting the bill’s passage.

The Senate companion (SF 231) received an informational hearing in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday. The same parties testified on the bill as did in the House. The bill author, Sen. David Brown (R-Becker), said the state’s implementation plan will have huge energy policy implications, so the Legislature needs to exercise its constitutional authority. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Energy omnibus, which will be assembled next week.

It is extremely unlikely that Governor Dayton would sign legislation that takes power away from his administration into law, so it will likely be used as a negotiation tool (at least on the part of the GOP House) as the session progresses. MMUA Government Relations staff will continue to monitor the status of this proposal.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee gave the Division of Energy Resources’ policy bill, SF 1431, an informational hearing on Thursday. Chair John Marty (DFL-Roseville) serves as author, and DER Director Bill Grant explained the bill provisions:

? Increasing the Renewable Energy Standard to 40% by 2030

? Increasing the CIP goal from 1.5% to 2% for electric utilities and from 1% to 1.5% for natural gas utilities

? Adding propane to the state’s energy assurance plan (for emergency situations)

? Implementing changes to siting solar farms, allowing counties to site solar farms 10-25 MW in size and PUC siting authority for larger projects. (Currently, large electric generation projects over 50 MW trigger PUC siting authority)

Due to last week’s hearing and lengthy testimony on the RES increase, MREA relayed the opposition of all utilities to “40 by 30.” The MN Chamber also spoke in opposition to the RES increase, and Wind on the Wires spoke in favor. Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) said that transmission costs can make renewable energy very expensive for municipal utilities so had concerns with increasing the RES.


Xcel Energy, again on behalf of all electric utilities, relayed opposition to the CIP increase, noting that this annual mandate becomes harder and harder to meet each year and that a 2% is an arbitrary number. Center Point Energy relayed the gas utilities’ opposition to their CIP increase. Sen. Rosen stated that current CIP goals are unattainable for municipal utilities and co-ops.

Several GOP senators expressed concern with the solar siting language, saying they have heard concern from constituents that the state does not take local landowners’ concerns into consideration in their siting decisions.

The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the energy omnibus bill, which Chair Marty said would be assembled next week. MMUA Government Relations staff will continue to monitor the committee’s proceedings.

D.C. Trip a Success!

This week, nearly 60 Minnesota municipal utility managers, commissioners, and city officials traveled to Washington, D.C. for the APPA Legislative Rally. We were able to meet with Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar, who were both familiar and supportive of our positions. Since the U.S. House was not in session this week, MMUA members also met with the energy staff of every member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation. This provided a great opportunity to introduce our organization and educate staff on municipal utility issues. Outreach staff from the EPA also addressed the MMUA, providing insight and answers to members’ questions on the proposed Clean Power Plan.

All in all, this was a great week. MMUA Government Relations staff would like to thank everyone who made the trip and provided such great advocacy! We’ll see you next year!