MN Senate Passes Renewable Energy Standard
May 12, 2006Minnesota State Senator Ellen Anderson sent this release today:
20 Percent by 2020: Senate Approves Renewable Energy Standard
The Minnesota Senate approved legislation to create a Renewable Energy Standard today, a measure that will require at least 20 percent of energy provided by the state’s electric utilities to come from new, renewable sources by the year 2020. State Senator Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), the bill’s author, said after two years of work on this initiative, she is thrilled to finally see it gain the Senate’s support.
“It is unacceptable that Minnesota imports more electricity than any other state in the nation, which is why I have been working to increase the state’s reliance on home-grown, renewable energy sources for two years,” Sen. Anderson said. “I think skyrocketing energy prices coupled with new studies that prove Minnesota could produce 10 times the electricity we need from wind power have finally convinced people that investing in a strong renewable industry is the right thing to do.”
The state currently has a Renewable Energy Objective in statute, which asks utilities to make good-faith efforts to have at least five percent of their energy mix come from renewable sources by 2010. After this date, the Renewable Energy Standard will kick in and require a 10 percent renewable mix by 2013, 15 percent by 2015 and, finally, 20 percent by 2020. Renewable energy sources include wind, solar, biomass, certain hydrogen facilities, and Minnesota hydro plants with capacity under 100 megawatts.
The standard requires the renewable mix to come from new energy sources, meaning rural areas could see a surge in economic development as people invest in creating new renewable energy technology. The bill also allows the Public Utilities Commission to modify or delay the standard for certain utilities if it believes complying with the new standard will significantly impact ratepayers or the reliability of an electric grid.
Senator Anderson said polls have shown as many as 89 percent of Minnesotans support increasing the state’s dependence on renewable energy sources. She also noted Governor Pawlenty’s State of the State Address in March, in which he announced support of a Renewable Energy Standard that would increase utilities’ reliance to 25 percent by 2025. She said no legislation reflecting this vow of support has been introduced, however.
“I hope the Senate’s strong action on this proposal will send a message to the House of Representatives and the Governor to follow up on their pledge to support renewable energy,” Sen. Anderson said. “There is no question that the nation is trending toward energy sources that can be developed and maintained within our borders. Passing this standard this year would put Minnesota at the head of the pack when it comes to renewable development. We could secure economic success for years into the future, meanwhile helping our farmers, consumers and business-owners with healthy new investments. This is simply the right thing to do.”
The Senate’s commitment to greener, cleaner energy sources is also reflected on the Omnibus Energy Bill, to which the Renewable Energy Standard language was attached. The omnibus bill focuses on energy independence by requiring the amount of money that utilities spend on conservation efforts to increase as energy prices go up. The bill also allows Minnesota agencies to begin purchasing plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and neighborhood electric vehicles as soon as they become commercially available at a reasonable price. Low-income customers will receive more assistance meeting high heating costs as a result of this legislation, and several renewable-energy development projects throughout Minnesota are supported.
For more information on the bill, contact Sen. Anderson at 651-296-5537.