Performance-Based Regulation in Minnesota: A Decade of Progress

June 9, 2020 in Electricity Author: Trevor Drake

Performance-based regulation for electric utilities is gaining increased attention across the US. States like Hawaii and New York are already testing new models to align utility performance with public policy goals. Minnesota took a slow and steady approach to performance-based regulation, building a foundation over a decade to ensure that changes to utility regulation are in the public interest and avoid unintended consequences. The development of performance-based regulation in Minnesota continues to garner national attention and was recently the subject of a Smart Electric Power Alliance case study in their three-part best practices toolkit series on the same topic. Continue reading »

Stakeholders Provide Guidance as Xcel Energy Looks at 50 Percent Increase in Demand Response

February 6, 2020 in Electricity Author: Trevor Drake

Smart thermostat pictured for blog on Xcel Energy’s demand response programs

Xcel Energy explored increasing its demand response portfolio by 50 percent with Minnesota stakeholders from 2017-2019. The results highlight considerations for utilities looking to deploy larger portfolios of advanced demand response. This blog, the first in a three-part series, shares demand response design principles and filing objectives developed by stakeholders to inform Xcel Energy’s planning for new demand response programs. Continue reading »

Approval of Xcel Energy’s Electric Vehicle Pilots Highlights Key Considerations for Electric Utilities

December 12, 2019 in Electricity, Transportation & Fuels Author: Trevor Drake

 An electric vehicle plug

Following a stakeholder engagement process facilitated by the Great Plains Institute in 2018, Xcel Energy received approval and is moving forward in Minnesota with new electric vehicle (EV) pilot programs.  

As investor-owned electric utilities seek to meet the needs of shareholders, consumers, and the environment, EVs offer a unique opportunity. If implemented carefully, utility investments in EV infrastructure and programs can provide a series of benefits, including new sources of utility revenue, better services for EV drivers, reduced costs for all consumers by making the electric system more efficient, and reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading »

e21 Forum Highlights Four Areas of Energy Innovation Across Minnesota

September 10, 2019 in Electricity Author: Trevor Drake

a photo from the e21 ForumMinnesota energy stakeholders came together at the end of August to learn about four areas of innovation happening across the state’s energy system. The event was put on by the e21 Initiative, a collaborative effort between the Great Plains Institute and Center for Energy and Environment that convenes diverse stakeholder groups to help shape and advance a decarbonized, customer-centric, and technologically modern energy system in Minnesota.

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e21 Forum Focuses on Integrated Systems Planning for a Decarbonized Electric System in Minnesota

March 4, 2019 in Electricity Authors: Jordana Palmer, Trevor Drake

Transmission lines and wind turbines in a field

Beginning in 2019, Minnesota’s three investor-owned utilities will file resource plans that will chart a path into a time period of significant change and opportunity. With nearly all the state’s power sector COemissions coming from fossil-fuel plants that are retiring or potentially retiring in the next 20 years, the state has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a transformation towards decarbonized electricity generation. Continue reading »

Opportunities to Increase Small Business Engagement on Energy

December 11, 2018 in Communities, Efficiency Authors: Jordana Palmer, Matt Kazinka, Trevor Drake

A woman demonstrating higher efficiency dishwashing in a retaurant

In 2014, we wrote about “A New Approach to Small Business Energy Efficiency,” in which we described the unique barriers—time, knowledge, and trust—that small businesses face in identifying and enacting energy efficiency improvements. We proposed that the best solution may not be a technological one, but a social one—partnering with individuals who have existing relationships with small businesses in their community and training them as “energy coaches” who can provide the commitment, information, and trust that resource-limited business owners require. Continue reading »

Getting a Good Deal: Solar Garden Subscriptions for Local Governments

November 15, 2017 in Communities Author: Trevor Drake

Solar Garden

Since its launch in 2014, Xcel Energy’s solar garden program in Minnesota has driven a growing conversation about solar energy options and opportunities, especially among local government staff and elected officials. Local governments are sought after as solar garden subscribers for their large and often stable electric loads, excellent credit scores, and interest in opportunities to reduce energy costs and meet public goals on clean energy. Continue reading »