Minnesota groups back higher renewables mandate

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Step one in an energy roadmap prepared by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) is a higher Renewable Energy Standard (RES), beyond the current standard of 25 percent by 2025 and at least 10 percent from solar by 2030.

The roadmap notes that “many of Minnesota’s utilities are well ahead of pace in developing renewable energy sources envisioned by the RES.” Xcel Energy plans to reach 60 percent renewable energy by 2030, the roadmap reports, while Great River Energy, the state’s second largest electricity producer serving member-owner cooperatives, plans to reach 50 percent renewables by 2030. 

“Raising the RES gives market certainty, and signals to businesses, both inside and outside of Minnesota, that our state is a smart place to invest in renewable work,” explained Gregg Mast, executive director of CEEM. A higher RES “enhances Minnesota’s attractiveness as it competes with neighboring states to secure renewable energy investment and jobs,” he said.

Beyond calling for a higher renewables standard, CEEM and its clean energy firm members also make the following solar-related recommendations:

  • “Continue to support Minnesota’s nation-leading community solar program;”
  • Institute new rate designs with “actionable price signals;”
  • Provide “additional options for large commercial, industrial, and institutional energy customers to access renewable energy;” and
  • Promote storage with “a framework for integrating storage onto the grid, … a marketplace that monetizes the benefits of energy storage, … and an energy storage procurement target.”

During the primary season CEEM members met with two candidates for governor of Minnesota.  CEEM has now invited the major party candidates for governor—Republican Jeff Johnson and Democrat Tim Walz—to meet (or meet again) to discuss the plan, and is working to find dates that work for the respective campaigns.

The national clean energy association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) co-authored the energy roadmap.  AEE has partnered with similar state-level clean energy groups in eight other states, to discuss energy goals with candidates for governor, and to date “has held 22 roundtables across California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio,” said J. R. Tolbert, AEE’s Vice President for State Policy.

CEEM advocates for wind, solar, and biomass; energy efficient HVAC, lighting and advanced building materials; as well as energy storage, smart grids, clean fuels, and advanced transportation, according to its website.

AEE advocates for “energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, natural gas electric generation, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, biofuels and smart grid,” according to its website. 

The plan is titled Minnesota’s Clean Energy Roadmap: How the Next Governor Can Make Minnesota’s Energy System more Secure, Clean, and Affordable While Driving Job Creation and Economic Growth.