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Easing co-op regulations

Published (3/23/2012)
By Bob Geiger
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Electric cooperatives that generate more than 80 percent of their business outside Minnesota could be relieved of filling out Minnesota regulatory forms.

HF2747, sponsored by Rep. Rich Murray (R-Albert Lea), was approved on a divided voice vote March 21 by the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.

Murray’s bill, which proceeds to the full House, would relieve electric cooperatives from filing integrated resource plans to state regulators.

“Our staff spends six months developing this report,” said Steve Tomac, senior legislative representative for Bismarck, N.D.-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

Kenric Scheevel, head of government relations for Dairyland Power Cooperative, said the size of the integrated resource document has grown from 50 pages in 2000 to more than 4,000 pages.“This document is over 2 feet high. … This is excessive for an advisory-only filing.”

Peter Brickwedde, assistant director of government affairs with the Department of Commerce, said there is no set form or length of the regulatory document. “Xcel Energy’s plan was a couple of hundred pages.”

The electric cooperative representatives say the cost of filing the regulatory documents with Minnesota ranges between $20,000 and $30,000 a year.

Rep. Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock) said the electric resource plans help state regulators create a road map for future energy use. “Simply saying that ‘We don’t want to follow the status quo’ isn’t good enough,” Falk said.

Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee) objects to the cost burden of the reports. “Just a penny here and a penny there — pretty soon it starts adding up to some real money.”

A companion, SF2098, sponsored by Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), awaits action by the full Senate.

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