FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 26, 2009
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, communications manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201
Public Utilities Commission announces Small Renewable Energy Initiative
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is requesting input on its Small Renewable Energy Initiative, a five-part approach to encourage common sense development of distributed generation.
The initiative includes components related to taxes, pricing for distributed generators, interconnection and siting. The taxing and pricing components involve proposed legislation; the interconnection element reviews new rules; and the siting portion includes a model ordinance developed for local governments. The PUC will collect public comments on each of the components online at www.PUC.SD.gov/smallwind through Aug. 31, 2009.
The five components of the Small Renewable Energy Initiative are:
1. Reducing Up-Front Taxes. This proposed legislation would allow any project of 10 megawatts or less to receive a 100 percent refund of the contractor's excise tax. This would provide an incentive of around $500 for a small residential turbine and around $200,000 for a community-based project with two large turbines.
2. Reducing Ongoing Taxes. This proposed legislation would provide a property tax incentive to any project less than 5 MW to exempt the first $50,000 of assessed value or 70 percent of the assessed value, whichever is greater, from property tax.
3. Ensuring a Fair Price. This proposed legislation would ensure small generators (up to 100 kW) would be paid no less than the costs the utility pays to purchase or generate electricity. Utilities would be required to file those rates annually with the commission, and the rates of the public utilities would have to be approved by the PUC.
4. Improving Interconnection. The PUC recently developed streamlined and uniform interconnection standards required to be used by public utilities within the state. This component of the initiative calls on the commission to monitor (and when appropriate, improve) those streamlined procedures.
5. Promoting Smart Siting. The commission will work to promote the adoption of wind siting ordinances by local governments. The PUC created a model ordinance currently being used by some jurisdictions.
"The PUC's Small Renewable Energy Initiative is a targeted effort to strengthen the renewable energy arena for small generators," said Dusty Johnson, the commission's chairman. "I know there are hundreds of South Dakotans that are very interested in renewable energy. We want those folks to review these concepts and share feedback. We want them at the drawing table, so to speak," he said.
"We have set up a user-friendly comment method," explained PUC Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck. "From now through August, people have the opportunity to review the proposed legislation online at the PUC's Web site and submit their thoughts and suggestions by way of an electronic form."
The comment forms can be accessed at www.PUC.SD.gov/smallwind . Comments may also be mailed to the PUC at 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501.
"It is important that anyone with an interest in small renewable energy become engaged in this process," encouraged PUC Commissioner Gary Hanson. "I hope we hear from developers of all sizes who will give thoughtful consideration to this initiative and offer constructive comments."