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Conservation Improvement Program

Conservation Improvement Program

The Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) helps Minnesota households and businesses use electricity and natural gas more efficiently --conserving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and lessening the need for new utility infrastructure. CIP is funded by ratepayers and administered by electricity and natural gas utilities.

The Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 (NGEA) established energy-saving goals for electric and gas utilities that operate in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) oversees CIP to ensure that ratepayer dollars are used effectively in achieving those goals and that energy savings are reported as accurately as possible.

In 2021 the Minnesota Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO Act) was signed into law. The ECO Act primarily serves to modernize CIP to provide a more holistic approach to energy efficiency programming. Notable highlights of the ECO Act include: 

  • Providing participating electric and natural gas utilities the opportunity to optimize energy use and delivery through the inclusion of load management and efficient fuel switching programs.
  • Raising the energy savings goals for the state’s electric investor-owned utilities.
  • More than doubling the low-income spending requirement for all investor-owned utilities. 
  • Providing greater planning flexibility for participating municipal and cooperative utilities.
  • Including activities to improve energy efficiency for public schools.

Commerce also provides technical assistance and tools to help utilities identify conservation opportunities, calculate savings, and report program results. The Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program funds projects to identify new energy-saving technologies, improve the effectiveness of existing energy conservation programs, and document carbon dioxide reductions. The Technical Reference Manual (TRM) provides algorithms used to calculate energy savings, and the Energy Savings Platform (ESP) provides a centralized forum in which to calculate program savings and submit plans and reports. 

Benefits of CIP include:

  • Improved awareness and adoption of energy-efficient technologies
  • Reduced energy costs for Minnesota households and businesses
  • Increased profitability for Minnesota companies and industries
  • Deferred costly utility infrastructure investments
  • Decreased carbon dioxide emissions
  • Conserved resources
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