CEE's staff employ an extensive network of relationships and deep knowledge of the power system and utility operations to address issues tied to the large-scale decarbonization of the electricity sector.
Key initiatives range from Minnesota’s large-scale renewable energy adoption to emission reductions in power sector operations and nation-leading energy-efficiency innovations.
Minnesota state policies
CEE’s core policy expertise complements Minnesota’s approach to utility energy-efficiency activities. CEE has been the leading voice for energy efficiency in Minnesota, guiding the state’s rise to its current position as a national energy-efficiency leader. Beginning with designing and implementing early “demand-side management” pilot projects in the 1980s and continuing through the updated efficiency standards of Minnesota’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, CEE continues to be an innovative and pragmatic force for energy efficiency and other cost-effective clean energy policies.
Community energy initiatives
CEE’s beginnings as the Minneapolis Energy Office rooted our work in the clean energy efforts of local governments. From creating local energy plans, to designing program and financing tools, to measuring how land use and building stock patterns can lessen energy impacts, we regularly work with local governments on city-specific program implementation. We provide policy and program expertise based on city-specific needs, and even participate in neighborhood-scale initiatives. In 2013–2014, we worked with the City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy, and CenterPoint Energy to recommend (see: Minneapolis Energy Pathways report) and help establish the first city-utility partnership in the nation, with each party committed to meeting shared climate action goals. The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership is a significant innovation in how local governments can interact with the utilities that serve them to address local clean-energy objectives.
Building performance standards
CEE’s scientific expertise specific to buildings lends itself to numerous applications such as commercial building benchmarking, commercial and residential certification, and state appliance standards. CEE has a longstanding participation in national technology standards processes, and staff members have chaired numerous technical committees through ASHRAE, a global membership group focused on sustainable technology for the built environment. CEE provides technical training and assistance for the Midwest’s first commercial building benchmarking statute in the city of Minneapolis, and continues to help forge the next generation of customer-side technologies through policy levers and standards, including CEE’s own Energy Fit Homes certification program — Minnesota’s first energy efficiency certification for existing homes.
Utilities regulatory reform
At the forefront of energy efficiency and customer-sited renewables is the question of how to create a new electric utility business model that encourages — rather than conflicts with — industry transformations that are currently under way. CEE created and co-directs the nation-leading e21 Initiative to develop such a model. In addition, we actively participate in numerous policy-related stakeholder efforts to tackle such issues for Minnesota, including revenue decoupling, innovative utility rate design and service offerings, and utility performance incentive structures to align utility interests with public interests.
The e21 Initiative (co-coordinated with Great Plains Institute ) brings together key constituencies including utilities, consumer groups, businesses, environmental organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies to reform utility regulation so Minnesota can retain its leadership role on clean energy and climate policy.
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