Before you make a big investment in a wind turbine or solar panels do your homework and ask lots of questions. If given expected performance numbers by a salesman, check them with your own numbers. What do they claim for kWh output? How does that line up with actual results from similar projects? Sales claims of kWh production that don't match what historically have been seen can make a big difference in pay back and what you hope to see out of your project. What’s been claimed and what happens in reality can be disappointing. Is the system UL pre-certified? Ask for a UL certificate. If not, you could incur added costs. Learn about the company or individual you’re dealing with. How long have they been in business? Check with the Minnesota Better Business Bureau about possible complaints and issues with the company. Don’t forget about us here at South Central Electric. You can’t connect to the grid without us. Get us involved before you sign a contract to purchase a turbine or solar panel to avoid possible issues. Just because you bought something doesn’t mean you can hook it to the grid. It has to meet Minnesota state electrical codes and be inspected by a state inspector. SCEA has to have the capacity to handle the project on its lines or you could be faced with significant costs. Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce web site () for information on wind and solar energy. As a member owned cooperative, South Central Electric Association is here to help its members whether it is through education or completion of your renewable energy project.
South Central Electric will be implementing a DG Grid Access Fee on distributed generation facilities that are interconnected on or after June 1, 2016. The fee will not apply to current distributed generation facilities or to facilities interconnected before June 1, 2016.
In 2015 the Minnesota legislature sought to return a level of fairness to how the electric distribution grid is paid for by authorizing electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to charge a cost recovery fee on distributed generation facilities (wind, solar, etc.). At its February Board meeting, South Central Electric Board of Directors voted unanimously to implement the fee starting June 1, 2016. The fee will allow South Central Electric to recover some of the cost shift that occurs between distributed generators and the rest of the membership.
There is a fixed cost to deliver electric power to our members; the poles, the wires, the equipment and people that get the power to you and keep it reliable and safe. This fixed cost is recovered in two ways, through a monthly fixed charge and as a portion of your kWh rate. Putting some of the fixed cost within the kWh rate was done on the assumption that the more energy a member used the more demand they put on the grid and the more they should pay to maintain it. Distributed generators demand as much (or more) from the grid than the rest of the membership. But, because they offset some or all of their energy usage they no longer pay their fair share to maintain the grid.
Investing in distributed generation is a big decision with a lot of questions about financing, return on investment, interconnecting with South Central Electric and the expected life of the system. In order to assist our members who are weighing this option, we are more than happy to answer questions you have. Below we have copies of our distributed generation policy, interconnection application and Minnesota process & requirements guidelines. You may also contact us at 507-375-3164 and ask for Jim. The Distributed Generation Grid Access fees are listed on our Cogeneration Rate sheet below.
Any distributed generation facility over 3.5 kW interconnected on or after June 1st, 2016 will be subject to the cost recovery fee. The fee will not apply to facilities interconnected before June 1, 2016.