Unhealthy, risky energy plan proposed by Minnesota House of Representatives

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barn with wind turbinesTwo visions of Minnesota’s energy future have emerged from the state’s House and Senate — one calls for the state to continue to lead on clean energy and another calls for an experiment with out-of-state fossil fuels that would roll back laws passed with broad bipartisan support.

“These two plans offer drastically different paths for Minnesota’s energy economy,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy. “One would have Minnesota continue as an innovative leader that draws investment and jobs to our communities. The House energy plan would erode decades of common sense, bipartisan progress toward a better energy future.”

Risky and Unhealthy

The proposed House energy plan that will be considered this week calls for a roll-back of Minnesota’s national leadership on energy policy. The bill would:

  • Weaken the state’s renewable energy standard
  • Repeal the state’s energy efficiency standard—the least-cost energy resource
  • Gut the state’s solar energy standard
  • Jeopardize Minnesota’s current flexibility in developing a Clean Power Plan that best meets our state’s energy needs – putting us at risk of having a “federal implementation” plan imposed on the state
  • Allow local monopolies to restrict customer choice to go solar (reversing a law originally passed in 1981) — placing Minnesota’s policy behind those recently adopted by Mississippi
  • Remove statewide goals for reduction of greenhouse gases

The proposed plan would reverse the economic growth of the last decade that has been shown in the 2014 Department of Employment and Economic Development Clean Energy Economy Profile. It’s a blow to a rapidly growing industry that is projected to create more than 35,000 new jobs and over $2 billion in wages over the next 15 years.

In contrast to the Senate plan, which builds on years of Minnesota experience, innovation, and a comprehensive reliability study, the House plan is untested in Minnesota’s modern energy system and allows for increasing use of imported fossil fuels—already at $18 billion per year.

Minnesota’s Proven and Tested Leadership in Clean Energy

In 2007, the Minnesota legislature passed energy legislation with broad bipartisan support. Since then, clean homegrown energy has delivered billions in private investment, millions in taxes paid, and thousands of jobs for communities across Minnesota. And recent studies have shown that Minnesota can do even more.

The Minnesota Renewables Integration Technical Study, produced by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in partnership with the state’s utilities, found that increasing the use of renewable electricity in Minnesota can be done safely, without compromising reliability, with modest investments made to current grid infrastructure.

Clean Energy and Healthy Communities

Minnesota doctors were at the State Capitol today reminding state legislators that clean energy is closely tied to cleaner air, cleaner water, and better health. In an open letter they delivered to every member of the House and Senate, the Twin Cities Medical Society states that emissions from power plants “are adversely affecting our environment and impacting the health of Minnesota’s communities.”

“I brought my grandchildren with me today because this issue really is about them,” said Dr. Michael Menzel. “They deal with asthma issues, just as many other children do. The fact of the matter is that emissions from these power plants create serious health concerns for families across Minnesota. Please join us in telling your legislator that it’s time for us to do the right thing and move forward with a responsible energy bill that harnesses clean, homegrown energy.”

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