Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered Xcel to make several changes to its 2020 Hosting Capacity Analysis (HCA) report, which it will file in early November. Whereas previous HCA maps from Xcel aggregated all the results and blurred out a lot of detail, future HCAs will show data at a much more granular level. These screenshots provide a representative example.
A big ol’ thanks for this outcome goes to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and its local partners, including Fresh Energy, which were integrally involved in recommending these changes to make HCAs more useful for the clean energy industry.
The changes, to be filed November 2, 2020, will lead to these improvements:
● Xcel’s map and downloadable spreadsheet will include more distribution system data that will help customers design projects to avoid lengthy studies or upgrades. The Commission ordered Xcel to additionally provide for each feeder on its system:
Transformer Name, Transformer Absolute Minimum Load, Load Tap Changer (LTC) or Regulator, Feeder Absolute Minimum Load, feeder type (Network or Radial), and if the daytime minimum load is actual or estimated.
● Xcel will provide downloadable data with each line segment’s hosting capacity results and criteria violation values, and will label line segments with a unique name or number.
● Xcel’s map will show the actual locations of distribution system lines instead of broad blocks of color.
● Xcel will develop a data validation plan, and accept feedback from stakeholders on a draft plan, before submitting its next HCA report on November 2, 2020. (For more information on the importance of HCA validation, see this article.)
The Commission also adopted a long-term goal to use the hosting capacity analysis in the interconnection process’s fast track screens. To IREC’s knowledge, this is the first time a Commission has explicitly adopted this long-term goal.
Issues for Future Improvement according to IREC:
“There are still some areas where additional reform would be valuable to make HCAs in Minnesota as useful as possible, particularly updates to how frequently Xcel is required to update its HCA. Currently, Xcel is required to update its HCA annually, meaning that the results are out of date for much of the year. IREC has suggested to the Commission that monthly updates be required. The Commission has ordered Xcel to provide cost estimates for monthly updates and will consider this issue next year.”
— Solar Builder magazine