100% Clean Energy is Law in Minnesota! What Comes Next?
Minnesota took a huge leap forward toward a clean energy future. After years of dedication and tenacity by a diverse coalition of stakeholders, and the leadership of climate friendly legislators, the 100% Clean Energy standard was signed into law on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. The transformative policy requires Minnesota utilities to generate 80% carbon-free electricity by 2030, 90% by 2035, and 100% by 2040. The standard also streamlines solar permitting, puts into place protections for environmental justice communities, requires the use of prevailing wage for the construction of large generating facilities, and more.
The legislation moved at a rapid pace thanks to courageous leadership in both the House and Senate. After years of stonewalling, no time was wasted in the passage of this landmark legislation. We are grateful to both the 100% Campaign and its allies for the excellent work and advocacy over the years and to the citizens of Minnesota for recognizing the urgency of the moment and making their voices heard by electing clean energy majorities to both chambers of the legislature.
The legislation’s strengths are to be admired. However, we recognize that decarbonization on its own is not enough, and there is more work to be done to ensure that our energy transition in Minnesota is just and equitable. A group of organizations, including Vote Solar, actively working on environmental justice and equity issues in Minnesota have outlined provisions needed to strengthen our clean energy transition for everyone. The 100% standard as written favors traditional utility investment paths. Without further guardrails centered on communities and energy choice, the end result may unintentionally exacerbate disparities in prosperity and health outcomes.
Issues left on the table that are ripe for conversation and action include:
- Expanding solar access by reforming the popular and highly successful Solar on Schools program for greater Minnesota and tribal areas
- Emphasizing and promoting equitable community benefits and access to community solar
- Tax incentives and job training to support a just transition for communities most impacted by the closures of fossil fuel facilities.
- Green financing options
- Compensation for the time and efforts of qualified intervenors, people formally opposing a utility proposal in a docket.
- And more!
Vote Solar and our partners are committed to continued organizing and actions that advance an equitable and just energy transition. Stay tuned for updates on our work this legislative session and ways to get involved.