Bill Glahn

Bill Glahn is the former Director of Energy Security under Gov. Pawlenty.

You can always count on a chaotic end to a legislative year and 2011 was no exception. Two significant policy bills reached the Governor’s desk following the wrap-up of the Regular Session. One was vetoed and the other signed.
Repeal of Coal Power Moratorium Vetoed
Senate File 86 began life as a bill to overturn the state’s 2007 moratorium on new coal-fired power plants—one of the signature issues for the incoming majority. It was later narrowed to apply to only out-of-state projects. Then it was narrowed twice further to legalize up to 2,500 MW of out-of-state coal, and finally just 1,500 MW of projects, all in an effort to gain support from Governor Dayton for the bill.
Despite passing with bi-partisan majorities at each step of the process, gaining votes along the way, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill on May 27th. Here is a link to the Governor’s veto letter:
Omnibus Energy Policy Bill Signed
That same day, May 27th, the Governor signed Senate File 1197, the 2011 omnibus energy policy bill. It contains a grab bag of provisions, some technical, but also includes some significant policy changes.
Inverted Block Rate Repeal: The bill repeals statutory authorization for “inverted block rates”, prices charged by electric or natural gas utilities that increase as a customer uses more energy. The bill allows for the controversial pilot project of CenterPoint Energy to continue, but the
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, is now seeking to end that program early.
CIP Exemptions for Large Natural Gas Customers:
The bill allows large natural gas customers to petition for exemption from the state’s conservation improvement program (CIP), the energy efficiency efforts run by electric and natural gas utilities. Exemption would allow large customers to avoid paying into a program from which they may derive little or no benefit, based on the nature of their operations. Large electric customers already have the ability to gain such exemptions.
Multi-year Rate Plans: The bill would allow a utility to
apply for a multi-year rate plan, locking in automatic annual rate increases for up to three years, without having to justify an increase in each year.
Spiritwood Plant: The bill exempts the newly constructed, 99 MW Spiritwood coal-fired power plant from Minnesota’s ban on importing coal power. This North Dakota facility is expected to enter service next year. The bill also:
  • Deletes $5 million in 2012 funding
    for the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the
    Environment (IREE).
  • Reduces the amount of annual energy
    efficiency goals for certain utilities that deliver federal hydro-power to
    customers. Previously, these utilities were required to show annual reductions
    associated with these sales, even though the utilities were merely agents for
    pass-through transactions on behalf of the federal government.
  • Requires the study of the rate
    impact of renewable energy mandates on utility customers
  • Extends the timeline for development
    of the Excelsior Energy project in northern Minnesota
Other News:
The Governor also vetoed all of the budget bills touching on energy, environment,and transportation matters. The Senate adjourned without acting on the nominations of either former state Senator Ellen Anderson for Chair of the Public Utilities Commission or Mike Rothman for Commissioner of Commerce, both energy policy-related positions.