Community Solar Development Delays May Lead to Fines

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Xcel Energy, a Minnesota-based utility holding company, may be facing fines over community solar development delays. Local developers have issued complaints stating their projects are experiencing longer-than-usual delays due to Xcel’s management of proposals. According to the developers, these delays are hurting their business, investors, and customers.

More than 120 complaints have been filed by one developer, who went to the state public utility regulators. If deemed viable by the utility regulators, each complaint could result in a tallied fine of $1 million against Xcel. The holding company will be contesting the fine, ultimately rejecting any criticism. Xcel’s manager of renewable programs, Kerry Klemm, states that the company is typically on time or close to and that projects generally go well, save for a few exceptions.

Many of the issues are based on a standard set in 2019 that was intended to improve a “interconnection” process throughout the state. Developers have stated that the management of the Minnesota Distribution Interconnection Process by Xcel has resulted in delays as long as a month. 

Backing developers is the Minnesota Department of Commerce (MDC), which stepped in to represent consumers in issues relating to electricity regulators. According to MDC, Xcel faced complications when rolling out the process, resulting in the current delays.

The community solar development delays hinder the states ability to roll affordable and accessible solar energy out to residents. As Xcel is at the helm of the Community Solar Garden program it is primarily responsible for the more than 300 programs that generate the bulk of the state’s clean, solar energy.

Klemm spoke out regarding Xcel’s efforts, stating the holding company has been emphasizing safety and the quality of the systems. Unfortunately, developers have pointed to how Xcel has sunk ample time on projects at the top of the list, which has caused significant delays in community-based solar projects.

For developers, these delays have cost time and money. According to Novel Energy Solutions, it has lost more than $10,000 in costs for development, salaries, and the interest on refundable deposits. The company states that there is absolutely no revenue coming in from proposals submitted to Xcel energy.

Additional complaints have been filed by All Energy Solar, though Xcel states it addressed those concerns. 



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