Minnesota just passed a 100% clean energy bill – here’s what’s in it

The Minnesota State Senate just passed a 100% clean energy bill on February 2, and it’s on its way to Governor Tim Walz’s (D-MN) desk for signing.

SF 4 requires all of Minnesota’s utilities to produce 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. The road map to carbon-free electricity before 2040 is as follows: 80% for public utilities and 60% for other utilities by 2030; 90% for all utilities by 2035.

The bill implements safeguards to ensure marginalized communities benefit from, and are not harmed, by a 100% clean energy transition, and it prioritizes equitable development of clean energy and the growth of local union jobs. 

The bill defines renewable energy as solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and hydrogen. Nuclear power is defined as carbon-free. Minnesota has two nuclear power plants that it will continue to operate for at least the next couple of decades. Building new nuclear plants is currently banned in Minnesota.

MPR reports that the largest utilities in Minnesota are “cautiously supportive”:

They already have goals of being carbon-free by 2050, so this would move up that date by a decade.

“We’re actually excited about being pushed to go faster,” Chris Clark, Xcel’s president in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, said in an interview. “We also recognize, though, that it’s a challenge.”

A big reason why major utilities aren’t opposing the bill is because it includes exemptions and ways they can meet the standard without ditching fossil fuels altogether. 

This bill allows utilities to be able to buy renewable energy credits to offset electricity generated by fossil fuels.

Patty O’Keefe, organizing representative for Sierra Club, said:

Minnesotans need and deserve clean and affordable energy. Wind and solar provide the cheapest price per kilowatt hour in Minnesota, and will continue to get cheaper. This bill will lower energy prices and hold energy companies accountable to provide their customers with reliable clean energy and good paying, family-supporting jobs.

Photo: “Presenting Curt Tosh’s farm-based solar project – Solar Works in Central Minnesota!” by CERTs is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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