ST. PAUL, MN — Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan have announced a set of policy proposals which they say will lead Minnesota to 100 percent clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2050.
Walz’s office says the policies will build on the success that the state has already achieved in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the use of clean energy resources to power the state.
Governor Walz’s policy proposal has three parts:
100 percent clean energy by 2050 -Walz says the standard would require all electric utilities in Minnesota to use only carbon-free energy resources by 2050 and would allow each utility to choose how and at what pace to meet this standard. In addition, the proposal includes provisions to help workers and communities affected by the transition.
Clean Energy First – The policy would require that whenever a utility proposes to replace or add new power generations, it must prioritize energy efficiency and clean energy resources over fossil fuels. Walz’s office says the policy would strengthen an existing renewable energy preference in Minnesota law, and it would allow for fossil fuel-based power only if it is needed to ensure reliable and affordable electricity.
The third part involves energy optimizations – the proposal would raise the state’s energy efficiency resource standard for investor-owned electric utilities and expand the Conservation Improvement Program, which helps the state’s households and businesses save on electric bills by using energy more efficiently. In addition, it would also encourage utilities to develop innovative new programs to help consumers and businesses switch to more efficient, cleaner energy, and would also target more energy-saving assistance for low-income households.
Minnesota Power Spokeswoman, Amy Rutledge, says the governor’s plan is very accommodating of utility companies.
“We are really encouraged by the fact that this proposal seems to allow greater flexibility for utilities as we make this transition towards a cleaner energy future,” she said.
Rutledge said the Governor’s goals are consistent with the strides they’ve made in the last nearly 2 decades, going from 95-percent coal-based in 2005, to 30-percent renewable energy today with no plans to slow down.
“We think that our past track record on achieving cleaner energy is an indicator of where we can go in the future,” she said, adding their goal is to be 45-percent renewable by 2025.
Rutledge added, Minnesota Power looks forward to fine-tuning the proposal with the governor.
“Certainly there is a lot more dialogue to come. These are early days in this proposal. So, certainly, we’ll probably see some changes in action down at the state legislature,” she said.
Meanwhile, Duluth is exploring its own ways of lowering their carbon footprint.
At next week’s city council meeting, they could vote to approve plans to form an energy plan commission – which would be tasked with lowering the amount of carbon dioxide the city creates by 80-percent by 2050.
That would be consistent with the mayor’s plan she has outlined in the past to help Duluth go green.
Officials say the states of California and Hawaii have already adopted mandates for 100 percent clean energy, and more than 100 major global companies have also pledged to meet their energy needs with 100 percent clean energy by 2050 or sooner, including Minnesota’s 3M.