The 2011 Minnesota legislative session resulted in some disappointing setbacks for clean energy. However, one bright spot is that legislators recognized that efficiency is truly a bipartisan issue and as the least cost generation resource, good for their constituents. Our state energy-efficiency laws emerged from session relatively unscathed, suffering only minor modifications.
This is quite good news, considering that earlier in session there were proposals to significantly damage the state savings goals. There have been numerous pieces of legislation introduced and acted upon this session which would have severely eroded our state efficiency goals. These ranged from completely removing the efficiency goal, to cutting it in half for co-ops and municipal utilities, to allowing a flood of large industrial customers to opt out of the savings requirements.
Fresh Energy worked hard all session to make sure that the most damaging efficiency provisions didn’t make it in to the final bill, and succeeded at removing the worst portions. In the end, there are a few changes to our state efficiency laws contained in the omnibus energy policy bill (SF1197) that was passed by the House and Senate last Sunday evening.
The final bill allows the Commissioner of Commerce to use discretion to accept a CIP plan from a Municipal or Cooperative utility that does meet its annual energy efficiency goal (even if it’s below 1 percent) if they can demonstrate legitimate reasons for not being able to meet the 1 percent or 1.5 percent savings level. Additionally, very large gas customers will be able to apply to opt out of paying for CIP if they show they are making reasonable energy efficiency investments on their own. This mirrors a provision already in statutes for large electrical users.