Democrats to restore massive solar subsidies?

In the dying days of the 2024 legislative session in St. Paul, state Democrats are looking to reinstate a solar power subsidy recently scaled back by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the PUC cut back big subsidies for small-scale solar installations that are referred to as “community solar gardens.” These smaller projects tend to be owned by cities, school districts, and groups of residential customers.

The subsidies are funded by you, the regular Xcel electricity customer.

The Star Tribune explains,

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 5-0 in February to shrink those credits because it would save about $40 million a year — and eventually more than $600 million in total — for Xcel Energy customers who foot the bill even if they don’t subscribe to a solar garden.

Now Democrats, who control all of state government, are looking to restore those credits and overrule the experts at the Utilities Commission. According to the Star Tribune, the average Xcel customer pays $7 a month to subsidize the program.

As the Star Tribune notes, all of this is being done in secret. The proposal to restore the solar credits is not part of any bill introduced. The proposal has not had a legislative hearing, Democrats in the state House of Representatives are seeking to slip the proposal into a larger bill dealing with power line permitting and other unrelated measures.

Democracy dies in the darkness, I’m told.