Governor Walz Proposes Plan To Achieve 100 Percent Clean Energy in Minnesota By 2050
Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced their One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy, a set of policy proposals that will lead Minnesota to 100 percent clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2050. The policies build on the success that Minnesota has already achieved in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the use of clean energy resources to power the state while ensuring reliable, affordable electricity.
“Climate change is an existential threat,” Governor Tim Walz said. “We must take immediate action. If Washington won’t lead, Minnesota will. That is why I am proud to announce a set of policy proposals that will lead Minnesota to 100% clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2050. These proposals would put us at the forefront of addressing climate change. Minnesota will pioneer the green energy economy—creating jobs while protecting our planet for generations to come.”
Governor Walz’s One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy has three parts:
100 Percent Clean Energy by 2050. This standard would require all electric utilities in Minnesota to use only carbon-free energy resources by 2050, while allowing each utility the flexibility to choose how and at what pace they meet the standard. The proposal includes provisions to assist workers and communities affected by the transition, while prioritizing local jobs and prevailing wages for large new clean energy projects.
Clean Energy First. This regulatory policy would require that, whenever a utility proposes to replace or add new power generation, it must prioritize energy efficiency and clean energy resources over fossil fuels. This policy would strengthen an existing renewable energy preference in Minnesota law, and it would allow for fossil fuel-based power only if needed to ensure reliable, affordable electricity.
Energy Optimization. This proposal would raise Minnesota’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard for investor-owned electric utilities and expand the Conservation Improvement Program that helps Minnesota households and businesses save on their utility bills by using energy more efficiently. It would also encourage utilities to develop innovative new programs to help consumers and businesses switch to more efficient, cleaner energy. In addition, it would target more energy-saving assistance for low-income households.
These policies build on the success of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, passed in 2007 with near universal legislative support and signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The law requires utilities to get at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Minnesota has already effectively achieved that standard. By the end of 2017, 25 percent of the electricity generated in Minnesota came from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. Meanwhile, electricity produced in the state from coal declined to 39 percent in 2017 from 59 percent in 2007.
The Next Generation Energy Act also set a goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas pollution by 15 percent by 2015 and 30 percent by 2025, from a 2005 base. As of 2016, greenhouse gas pollution from electricity had already declined about 29 percent since 2005.
The decrease is due to less coal and more clean energy being used to generate electricity in the state, as well as the positive impact of energy conservation measures. Several Minnesota utilities have already committed to additional coal plant closures that will further reduce greenhouse gas pollution produced by the electricity sector.