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Lt. Governor Tina Smith Announces New Bipartisan Effort to Move Minnesota to 50 Percent Renewable Energy by 2030

2/27/2017 9:15:12 AM

Bipartisan 50 by ‘30 effort would build on the successes of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, which have already moved Minnesota to more than 21 percent renewable energy

Renewable energy is good for Minnesota’s economy, environment, and public health – supporting more than 15,000 jobs and creating $1 billion in economic activity

ST. PAUL, MN – Lt. Governor Tina Smith today announced a new bipartisan effort to increase Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030. Minnesota is already on track to surpass the current goals set by the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act, which has moved Minnesota to more than 21 percent renewable energy. The new standard – supported by both Democrats and Republicans – would be good for Minnesota’s environment, health, and economy.

“Ten years ago, Minnesota enacted the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act and proved that we can have affordable, reliable, and clean energy,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Today, because of bipartisan leadership and a sustained effort, more than 21 percent of Minnesota's electricity comes from renewable sources. If we redouble our efforts, and raise Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard to 50 percent by 2030, we will improve air quality, continue to drive down the cost of renewable energy, and generate thousands of new energy jobs.”

The bipartisan bill to advance this new standard is being authored in the Minnesota Senate by Sen. Nick Frentz and Sen. Karin Housley, and in the Minnesota House by Rep. Erin Maye Quade and Rep. Joe Schomacker. This new effort builds on the success of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, enacted by Governor Tim Pawlenty and an overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators (97 percent) ten years ago.

"Minnesota has been a nationwide leader in promoting renewable energy, reaping the rewards in good paying jobs, cost savings for our people, and environmental benefits,” said Sen. Nick Frentz. “This bill sends a strong message that we intent to stay that way."

“In Minnesota, the clean energy economy isn’t just the future – it’s the present,” said Rep. Erin Maye Quade. “Clean energy is already providing jobs, saving families money, and making our nation more secure. And we know we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. As a State Representative, one of my goals will be to increase Minnesota’s presence in the growing clean energy economy because these jobs are right here in Minnesota and can’t be shipped overseas.”
Minnesota’s progress under the Next Generation Energy Act has made our state an energy sector leader, with more than 15,000 clean energy jobs, which contribute more than $1 billion in economic activity in Minnesota every year. It has helped wind energy become a reliable, affordable source of electricity for Minnesota, while taking the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road. Increasing Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 50 percent would help continue this growth, and would be good for Minnesota’s economy, health, and environment.
Good for Our Economy
Minnesota’s clean energy economy has the potential to help fuel economic growth in Minnesota. Clean energy jobs in Minnesota grew 78 percent between 2000 and 2014, growing steadily through the recession. In comparison, the state’s total employment growth was only 11 percent. By 2030, global energy demand is expected to increase by 31 percent – creating a significant market for businesses able to help meet this demand. Raising Minnesota’s renewable energy standard will help grow our state’s clean energy technology sector and create good jobs for Minnesotans.

Good for Our Health
Strengthening Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard will reduce the soot and smog that make Minnesotans, especially young children, elderly individuals, and those with other health conditions sick. In 2008, air pollution contributed to about 2,000 deaths in the Twin Cities alone. That was up to 13 percent of all Twin Cities’ deaths that year.

Good for Our Environment
If Minnesota takes positive, bipartisan action now, we can improve and safeguard our state’s environment and natural resources for generations to come. Minnesota has experienced three 1,000-year floods since 2004. The state’s moose herd has declined by 50 percent. Minnesota’s spruce, fir, aspen, and birch forests have retreated toward Canada, as changing temperatures make our state an inadequate climate. Raising Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restoring our state’s pristine natural resources.

Opportunity Agenda Investments for our Clean Energy Future
Governor Mark Dayton has proposed An Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota – a two-year budget proposal to expand opportunity for all Minnesotans, everywhere in Minnesota. This includes investments to keep moving Minnesota forward on clean energy, protecting our health, environment, and good jobs in our state.

  • Increasing Energy Efficiency Savings – In addition to the Renewable Energy Standard, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 included an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, to encourage energy savings among Minnesota utilities. Currently, the standard requires utilities to achieve energy savings of 1.5 percent of their annual sales through efficiency upgrades by Minnesotans. The Governor’s budget proposal would increase that standard to 2 percent for electric utilities, and invest $800,000 to assist utilities making this change. 

  • Reducing Energy Use in Public Buildings – For 20 years, Minnesota has made great gains in clean energy, increasing renewable energy use from 5.8 percent to 20 percent. The Governor’s budget invests $1.3 million to help school districts, colleges, and universities, local governments, and state agencies measure and reduce energy usage. Better efficiency in public buildings will reduce energy use, saving taxpayer dollars.

  • [FACT SHEET] See how the Dayton-Smith Administration and legislators are proposing to increase Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030. [LINK]
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