Legislative Update: Energy bills in motion
This update originally appeared in the MN Electrical Association's Government Action Update (3/10/19)
For energy folks, this legislative session sure picked up last week! On Monday, Governor Walz announced his Path to Clean Energy Act — a short summary can be found at http://bit.ly/mn100clean.
Key components in the bill include an emphasis on clean energy resources, like solar and energy efficiency, in addition to increasing and expanding the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) to become the “Energy Optimization” program.
Load shifting and efficient fuel switching, including strategic electrification, could also be included in CIP. Any net energy savings from efficient fuel switching would be in addition to the overall efficiency targets for the investor-owned utilities — increased to 1.75% of gross annual sales for IOU electric utilities and reduced to 1.0% for IOU natural gas utilities. Municipal and cooperatives utilities would need to reach a 1.0% goal in energy efficiency to be able to count net energy savings from efficient fuel switching.
This is big news in energy and could provide many new efficiency projects! Increasing the efficiency goal will assist Minnesotans in implementing energy efficiency, the least-cost energy resource we have. The bill will be heard in the House Energy Committee on March 12.
Also last week, SF 1915 was heard in the Senate Energy Committee. As introduced, the bill would have significantly reduced CIP funding available in municipal and cooperative service territories. Many organizations provided written and verbal testimony against those changes. Fortunately an amendment was offered to remove a key item from the bill, reducing those concerns. The bill in its current form adjusts municipal and cooperative CIP goals from 1.5% in energy efficiency to 0.75% in energy efficiency and 0.75% met through strategic electrification, utility energy system savings, or additional energy efficiency.
Electrification could be a good opportunity for Minnesota Electrical Association members, but we will need to ensure that these opportunities are not at the expense of energy efficiency projects.
Numerous bills heard in both energy committees could interest the electrical industry — including grants for solar on schools, energy efficiency revolving loan for schools, amending commercial PACE to include new construction and major remodels, community solar gardens, and battery storage.
This week is first deadline for bills to be heard and passed out of the policy committees they are pertinent to, though majority of the bills heard in both the house and senate energy committees have been laid over for possible inclusion in the respective committee’s policy omnibus. Busy and interesting times ahead for energy legislation!
Minnesota Electrical Association
Governor Walz's Path to Clean Energy Act (summary 3/8/19)
Image Credit: Office of Governor Mark Dayton