Minnesota Lieutenant. Governor Tina Smith (D) announced a new bipartisan effort on February 27 to increase Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030.

Called the 50 by ‘30 initiative, it would build on the successes of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, passed ten years ago, which already has moved Minnesota over 21 percent in meeting its renewable energy goals.

The bipartisan bill (HF1772/SF1531 ) to advance this new standard was introduced on February 27 in the Minnesota Senate by State Senator Nick Frentz (D-District 19) and State Senator Karin Housley (R-District 39); and in the Minnesota House by State Representative. Erin Maye Quade (D-District 57A) and State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-District 22A).

“Ten years ago, Minnesota … proved that we can have affordable, reliable, and clean energy,” said Smith, referring to the earlier act. “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,” she said, “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.”

“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 Frentz. “This bill sends a strong message that we intent to stay that way.”

Minnesota’s progress under the Next Generation Energy Act has made the North Star 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, according to a fact sheet for the Renewable Energy Standard

Indeed, clean energy jobs in Minnesota grew 78 percent from 2000 to 2014, increasing steadily through the recession. By comparison, the state’s total employment growth was only 11 percent.

To support the goals of 50 by ’30, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) has proposed An Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota – a two-year budget that would help the state to:

  • Increase 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 in making this change.
  • Reduce Energy Use in Public Buildings – For 20 years, Minnesota has made 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 to measure and reduce energy usage. Better efficiency in public buildings will reduce energy use, saving taxpayer dollars.

“Minnesota is doing better – much better than it was before,” commented Dayton in a formal releaseBut too many Minnesotans are still being left behind. We can and must do even better. My budget would continue making the investments our state needs to create opportunity for every Minnesotan. It would deliver excellent educations for all our students, support job creation across our state, and create cleaner, healthier futures for all Minnesotans. These investments, and reforms to make government work at the speed of business, will help create an even Better Minnesota.”

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