MN's Path to Clean Energy: Collaborative effort in three parts
On March 4, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced a set of policy proposals to lead Minnesota to 100% clean energy in the state's electricity sector by 2050 (HF 1956).
We at CEE are honored that the Governor included our two legislative initiatives in the policy package — Clean Energy First and Energy Optimization.
Combined with the 100 Percent Carbon-Free Standard, the proposed policies together build on the success that Minnesota has already achieved in reducing fossil fuel dependence and increasing the use of clean energy resources to power the state while ensuring reliable, affordable electricity.
Here I summarize each of three key parts of the Path to Clean Energy Act:
1. Carbon-Free Standard: Our electricity resources are a substantial contributor to climate change. One of the most significant ways to reduce our carbon emissions it by requiring electric utilities to use carbon-free generation sources. By requiring carbon-free electricity by 2050, utilities are given planning time and flexibility to reach those goals in a reliable and affordable method.
Nested under 100 percent carbon-free are two bills that will be mechanisms to achieve this standard: Clean Energy First and Energy Optimization.
2. Clean Energy First: Many of the large power plants currently serving Minnesotans will likely be retired over the next 20 years. Clean Energy First will help Minnesota accomplish this transition affordably, reliably and with increasingly clean electricity supply – through improvements to utility resource planning, coordinated transmission planning, focused attention on communities that host potentially retiring power plants and maximized opportunities for high-quality jobs in constructing new electricity generation.
The core tenet of Clean Energy First is to strengthen the current preference in utility resource planning for renewable energy. Clean Energy First also expands the definition of preferred clean energy resources to include energy storage, energy efficiency and load management. Whenever an electric utility needs additional generation — whether as the result of increased customer demand, power plant retirements or the expiration of power purchase agreements — the utility would be required to look first to these clean energy resources to satisfy that need.
3. Energy Optimization Act: Energy efficiency is the silent hero of the clean energy transition and helps Minnesota’s homes and businesses control their energy costs. Achieving high penetrations of carbon-free electricity will require that we continue Minnesota’s nation-leading efforts to squeeze energy waste out of our economy, in order to avoid utility investments that aren’t needed and that customers shouldn’t have to pay for.
Energy Optimization Act will enhance Minnesota’s current energy efficiency statute, known as the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) by maintaining a consistent focus on cost-effective energy efficiency, while broadening CIP to include load management programs (encouraging customers to shift their energy use to lower cost periods) and programs to encourage consumer adoption of lower carbon technologies that reduce emissions as they reduce customer bills.
MN HF 1956 - Clean Energy First Act
Clean Energy First (summary 3/8/19)
Minnesota State News Release on 100% Clean Energy