Policy - State Level

Americans Making Power Act Proposes National Net Metering

July 2010, Washington, D.C. - Rep. Jay Inslee (WA) has introduced the Americans Making Power Act, or AMP Act, which would establish a national standard for net metering. The legislation would allow Americans to feed back into the grid excess renewable power they generate through their homes, small businesses and even places of worship. This legislation would also improve reliability of the nation's electric grid by encouraging a more diffuse means of energy production.

“Our new clean energy economy can start right at home.”

—  Rep. Jay Inslee

The AMP Act (HR 5692) addresses two main issues associated with a robust net metering policy; namely the actual net metering standard and a policy component designed to allow for the connection of a renewable energy system to the electric grid, also known as "interconnection." The AMP Act would accomplish this by modifying section 113 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978. While some 42 states have already adopted some form of net metering and/or interconnection standards, there are many variations in policy and some states have yet to adopt net metering language at all.

The AMP Act would set a minimum in standards and procedures for net-metering including a limit on the size of machine at 2MW, but would allow states to enact their own regulations over and above this minimum. As written, the owner-generator keeps all renewable energy credits generated by the machine. Additionally, the requirement to offer this program does not apply once the utility has reached a total of 6% of its peak load in net-metered projects (or 4% of it's peak by any one qualifying net-metered technology). This is re-calculated every 12 months. Customer-generators will receive a kwh credit on their bill for any excess generation. At the end of 12 months, if there is a net excess of generation, the customer-generator recieves a payment equal to the average wholesale rate for the previous 12-month period per net excess kwh.

“Our new clean energy economy can start right at home,” said Rep. Inslee. “By empowering Americans, this legislation can help build the clean energy economy of the 21st century while saving families money. Imagine getting a credit on your bill from your utility company every month because you generated more power than you use.”

States Advancing Wind Peer Network

Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) would like to invite you to join a new States Advancing Wind Peer Network group as part of the DOE's Wind Powering America State Outreach Project. The goal of this initiative is to create a peer-to-peer network for sharing information on the merits, approaches, best program practices, and policy tools available for states to accelerate wind project development. The information that will be provided will include briefing papers and notices of in-depth webinars on specific topics such as best siting practices, innovative policy tools, and emerging finance mechanisms for wind projects, as well as real-time information on state wind activities. The objective is to provide objective, quality, targeted information for state officials and those interested in state wind policy, not to overwhelm you with too much information too frequently - and to seed opportunities for collaboration.

The goal of DOE's Wind Powering America project is to rapidly accelerate the market penetration of wind technology to secure the substantial energy, economic, environmental, and national security benefits for America. The Department has chosen to work with 25 diverse states and organizations to promote information sharing, including CESA - whose role is to work with state agencies and officials across the nation to advance outreach efforts and to provide targeted technical assistance.

Clean Energy States Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing leading state clean energy programs across the country. Established in 2002, CESA works with over 20 state clean energy funds and programs. CESA assists its members in multi-state strategies to develop and promote clean energy technologies and to create and expand markets for these technologies.

To join the listserv, please send an contact  Anne Margolis  with "Wind Listserv" in the subject line and include your contact information.


Connecting Renewable Energy to a Smarter Grid

Transmission Linemen
Transmission Lineman
photo: mnorri, some rights reserved

There are many hurdles for connecting renewable energy projects to the existing electric power grid. Transmission lines already operate near full capacity. Substations may not handle new interconnections. Regulatory processes span state and federal authorities, and interconnection standards vary from state to state. Plus, it's not clear how to best allocate costs for infrastructure improvements between utilities, energy developers, and rate-payers.

The good news is that both industry and government groups have invested in research on how to better connect renewable energy projects to the grid and how to construct a smart grid that can support a clean energy future. While there is clearly need for technology improvements, much of the research points to improved policies, consistency in standards, and adoption of best practices. Here are recently released reports on these topics.

The sixth edition of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's (IREC) Connecting to the Grid Guide provides a comprehensive introduction to a span of topics that relate to grid-tied renewable energy sources. The sixth edition has been revised to include information on IREC's recently updated model procedures, alternative billing arrangements for net metering, energy storage and several other emerging issues in the field. This guide is designed for state regulators and other policymakers, utilities, industry representatives and consumers interested in the development of state-level interconnection and net metering policies.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory system, hosts a Modern Grid Strategy web site that regularly issues whitepapers. The Transmission Smart Grid Imperative outlines the technologies that are ready to be deployed while considering the complexities of building consensus for new transmission construction. Accomodates All Generation and Storage Options defines how a smart grid can be powered by small distributed energy resources (DER) which include both distributed generation and storage, as one of seven "Smart Grid Principal Characteristics" identifed by NETL.

Perspectives for Utilities & Others Implementing Smart Grids by The Smart Grid Stakeholder Roundtable Group represents the outcome of meetings with a range of stakeholders including state agencies, consumer groups, environmental groups, commercial and industrial consumers, utilities and public utility commissions. The report was sponsored by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability with the goal "to help utilities and other smart grid project developers better communicate how and why they think smart grid technologies will benefit consumers and the environment, as well as the overall electric system in general."

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), partnering with DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has "primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems..." The NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0 is a draft of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems. NIST has currently identified 16 initial standards and is considering an additional 46 potential standards. 

Going Grid Neutral at California Schools

2008: State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Rosario Marin  announced the release of California's "grid neutral" guidebook; a step-by-step guide to help California schools and community colleges cut energy costs through on-site electricity generation.

The program was spearheaded by the California State Architect and a team of environmental experts. It is the first comprehensive program for schools to use to create campuses that generate as much electrical energy as they consume in a year.

Windustry staff thought that it might be useful to share these ideas with a wider audience.  While there is only a small segment specifically about wind energy, many ideas contained in this guidebook could be useful in other states. Please follow the link at more information for access to the full report and the full press release.

Minnesota Passes New C-BED Legislation

New Law Passed to Advance Community Energy Projects
Next Generation Energy Act Helps MN Farmers and Small Businesses Build Renewable Energy Projects

St. Paul, MN – (5/25/07) Today Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Next Generation Energy Act (SF145), which includes critical provisions that will help rural communities build wind farms, biomass power plants and other renewable energy facilities.

The legislature passed the bill on Sunday with strong bipartisan support.

This community-based energy development (C-BED) legislation helps rural communities plan, build and own renewable energy facilities themselves, thereby keeping energy dollars in local economies. A number of studies have shown that local ownership of wind farms at least triples local financial benefits relative to ownership of wind facilities by large outside companies (see references, below). “This legislation keeps Minnesota at the cutting edge of community wind energy development nationwide,” said Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry. She added, “Currently, Minnesotans own more wind power projects than residents of other states.” Thirty percent (275 MW out of 895 MW) of Minnesota’s wind energy capacity is community-based.

Andrew Falk, a wind developer near Benson Minnesota said, “First, we must thank State Representative Aaron Peterson for his incredible work and leadership on this important issue. Communities want to take an active role in meeting the energy needs of the 21st century with locally owned renewable energy resources. This piece of legislation assists the utilities and the regulatory agencies in comprehending the value of community-based energy development (C-BED) projects. A key provision in the bill prevents wind energy development companies from buying wind rights from landowners and then not developing them within a reasonable time. “All over the country, wind energy is hot so large companies are buying up wind rights before the competition drives up prices,” noted Daniels. “The law protects landowners in this exploding market by requiring developers to finish building projects within seven years or renegotiate their deals with landowners.”

The legislation also makes it easier for local governments to own wind energy projects, and it allows counties, rather than just the state government, to permit projects as large as 25 MW. “These changes in law will help cities, counties, school districts and other local agencies develop, own and benefit from wind farms,” said David Benson, Nobles County Commissioner. He added, “Local ownership of wind projects helps ensure that a broader spectrum of Minnesotans benefit financially from renewable energy and it also helps make rural communities more energy independent.” “Farmers all over the state want to earn more hard dollars from wind farms,” added Daniels, “but, our current regulatory and tax system makes entry into this new business opportunity needlessly cumbersome. This new law removes some barriers and will help us deal with future ones.”

The legislation includes provisions that:

  • Allow counties to take over permitting authority to site wind energy facilities up to 25 MN in size, up from 5 MW, and impose higher standards than state law.
  • Allow local governments to own wind energy projects with more than two turbines without partnering with other entities.
  • Require utilities to study the amount of renewable energy that can be connected to existing local transmission lines and substations with minimal upgrades, thereby using existing utility infrastructure more efficiently and delaying the need for new large transmission lines.
  • Require that developers finish projects within 7 years or renegotiate land development agreements with landowners to extend these agreements.
  • Require the Department of Commerce to consider the C-BED economic benefits that flow to all local interests, not just the project developer, when approving C-BED projects.
  • Allow C-BED developers to negotiate market-based rates unhindered by an out-of-date price cap.
  • Require utilities to consider contracting with C-BED projects to comply with the Renewable Energy Standard adopted by the State in February.
  • Allow utilities to partner with C-BED projects.
  • Require a variety of studies on emerging community energy issues.

For information about the economic benefits of community wind relative to other development, go to:
For the text of and other information about the Next Generation Energy Act, SF 145, go to:

Windustry is a non-profit organization working to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities by providing technical support and creating tools for analysis.

** Media Contact: Lisa Daniels 612-870-3462 **

Windustry Newsletter - Spring 1999

Spring 1999 Newsletter

Minnesota Wind Breakthrough

The future of wind in Minnesota became much brighter January 21, 1999, with the promise of 400 MW to be built by 2012. Rejecting Northern State Power's analysis, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided with a vote of 4-0 that the development of an additional 400 MW of wind is in the public interest. "The public demand for clean, renewable energy was recognized in this decision," said Bill Grant, Director of the Midwest Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America. The PUC deliberations had received substantial public attention, including unprecedented public hearings in St. Cloud, Moorhead, Winona, Pipestone, Mankato, and St. Paul. Citizen testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward with wind development, in which Minnesota is seen as a national leader in wind energy production and technology. John Dunlop, Great Plains Representative for American Wind Energy Association, said "With the completion of the initial 425 MW required by state law and the additional 400 MW ordered by the PUC, wind businesses will provide as much electricity as used by one out of every six Minnesota households."

NSP is currently contracting projects for the first 425 MW as defined by the 1994 Prairie Island legislative agreement. The agreement called for 400 additional MW to be built if wind power was deter-mined to be the least cost option and in the public interest. Dunlop said, "The PUC has affirmed the state’s leadership in a transition to clean, renewable energy."

Governor Ventura meets with citizens and students from SW Minnesota

Newly elected Governor Jesse Ventura and Government Relations staff Joe Bagnoli, sat down with concerned citizens and leadership from Southwest Minnesota, students from Lake Benton High School, and wind and environmental advocates with the SEED coalition, to hear concerns over the future of wind energy in Minnesota. On January 13, one week before the PUC wind decision, citizens and advocates appealed to the Governor to promote wind development in Minnesota, especially in counties hard hit by low agricultural prices. Ventura agreed that a deal was a deal and NSP should hold up their side of the bargain. Concerns were also raised regarding the Renewable Development Fund, specifically where the funds were and how they could be accessed. Afterwards, meeting participants lobbied various members of the Senate and House to favor and support increased wind development and clean environmental standards in Minnesota.

1999 Legislative Watch

A Renewable Development Fund is to be established as part of the Northern States Power (NSP) Prairie Island legislative agreement of 1994. According to the 1994 statute, $500,000 must be paid per dry cask per year, if the nuclear waste remained on the island beyond 1998. This means $3.5 million this year and probably $4.5 million next year. Who is going to administrate this fund and how are some of the questions to be answered this session. NSP is of the opinion that fund is an internal one that the company itself would control it. The SEED coalition (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development) is holding the positions that the process must be "publicly accountable" and that the fund must have a "strong preference" for projects in Minnesota.

On The Windustry Trail
Don't sign on the dotted line until...

In March, Windustry conducted a series of Town Meetings on Wind Rights. Landowners were presented with a outline of legal contract considerations to help them identify issues before signing wind easement contracts. Meetings were held in Pipestone, Lake Benton, Slayton, Moorhead and St. Charles. More town meetings, Harvesting the Wind: A Landowners Perspective are being held in early April in Lake Wilson. These meetings are intended to provide even more opportunities for landowners to discuss issues and gather information on the wind development that is taking place in Southwest Minnesota. We have wind energy experts, banking and economic development professionals as speakers to talk about the benefits of the various payment options, tax implications, long term value of the land, and different ways of developing wind projects that include local ownership. All the meetings are free and open to the public.


Click on the link below for a pdf version.

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