Aurora Distributed Solar, LLC ("Aurora") filed a Site Permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the "Commission") on July 9, 2014 for photovoltaic ("PV") solar energy generating systems and associated facilities totaling 100 megawatt ("MW") (the "Project"). The docket number assigned to the proceeding is E-6928/GS-14-515.
The Project consists of up to 24 distributed solar facilities ranging in size from 1.5 MW to 10.0 MW. Aurora is seeking the Site Permit for all 24 facilities; however, building the full capacity of all 24 facilities would result in over 100 MW, and, therefore, Aurora does not anticipate constructing all 24 facilities. The final combination, number and capacity of the facilities ultimately selected for construction will depend on a number of factors, including site-specific conditions, engineering studies, environmental survey results, and interconnection details. The proposed Project is located in the following counties: Benton, Blue Earth, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Dodge, Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Le Sueur, McLeod, Pipestone, Rice, Stearns, Waseca, Washington, and Wright. In Dodge County, the proposed facilities are located in Section 32, T 107N, R 17W.
Because the Project is a generating plant larger than 50 MW, it meets the definition of a large energy facility and would require a Certificate of Need ("CN") prior to issuance of a Site Permit and construction. The Project is exempt, however, from CN requirements because it was selected by the Commission through a competitive resource approval process to meet Xcel Energy's electricity generation needs and falls within the CN exemption found in Minn. Stat. § 216B.2422, subd. 5(b). Pursuant to the Commission's Order Directing Xcel to Negotiate Draft Agreements dated May 23, 2014 in Docket No. E002/CN-12-1240, Aurora is currently negotiating a power purchase agreement ("PPA") with Xcel Energy for the full output of the Project.
A Site Permit from the Commission is required before the Project can be constructed. The Power Plant Siting Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 216E) and implementing rules in Minnesota Rules parts 7850.1000 to 7850.5600 establish the requirements for submitting and processing a Site Permit application. The statutes and rules also establish notice requirements for various stages of the process.
The Site Permit application will be considered by the Commission under the alternative permitting process in Minnesota Statutes, section 216E.04 and Minnesota Rules parts 7850.2800 to 7850.3900. The Commission has up to six months from the time the application is accepted as complete to process and make a decision on the Site Permit according to Minnesota Statutes, Section 216E.04, subd. 7 and Minnesota Rule 7850.3900, subp. 1.
Within 60 days after the Commission accepts the application as complete, the Commission and the Department of Commerce, Energy Environmental Review and Analysis ("EERA") unit will hold public meetings to provide information and seek comments from the public. At the meetings, members of the public may propose additional alternatives for consideration in the environmental assessment that the EERA will prepare. Once the public meetings are scheduled, notice of the meeting will be provided to persons whose names are on the Project contact list and will be published in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the Project area.
After the environmental assessment has been completed, a public hearing (conducted by an administrative law judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings) will be held on the application. Any person may speak at the public hearing, present documentary evidence, ask questions of Aurora representatives and EERA staff, and submit comments.
Aurora does not have the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire the land necessary for the Project.
How to Learn More
Department of Commerce Project Website:
Project Mailing List: Sign up to receive notices about project milestones and opportunities to participate (meetings, comment periods, etc.). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or
651-201-2204 with the docket number (13-591), your name, mailing address, and email address.
Full Case Record: All documents filed in this docket are available on the Commission's website at mn.gov/puc, select "Search eDockets," enter the year (14) and the docket number (515), select "Search."
Subscribe to the Docket: Receive email notifications every time new documents are filed.
Note - subscribing may result in a large number of emails.
2. Select green box Subscribe to a Docket
3. Type your e-mail address
4. For Type of Subscription, select Docket Number
5. For Docket Number, select 14 in the first box, type 515 in the second box
6. Select Add to List
7. Select Save
Application: The site permit application is available at the Dodge Center Public Library, 13 First Avenue NW, Dodge Center, MN 55927, or by contacting the Dodge County Auditor and the Wasioja Township Clerk.
You may also contact Aurora (see below) to request a copy of the site permit application.
Minnesota Statutes and Rules: This project is being reviewed under Minnesota Statute § 216E.04 and Minnesota Rules Chapter 7850, available at revisor.mn.gov.
Public Utilities Commission Public Advisor
Tracy Smetana at email@example.com, 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782
Public Utilities Commission Staff Analyst
Cezar Panait at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 651-201-2207
Department of Commerce Environmental Review Manager
Suzanne Steinhauer at email@example.com, or 651-539-1843