A year of progress

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Challenges at the federal level may have grabbed headlines in 2017, but Fresh Energy helped Minnesota demonstrate that states can and must lead the charge on a transition to a clean energy economy. Plus, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary! Check out our 25th Anniversary scrapbook looking back on a quarter century of progress.

Below are some highlights from the last year and an overview of the work ahead.

Fresh Energy brings Minnesota businesses to Bonn: As countries from around the globe gathered in Germany to set ambitious climate goals, science policy director J. Drake Hamilton was there to showcase the dramatic carbon reduction seen in Minnesota thanks to leadership by lawmakers and leading businesses.

Location, location, location: Adding new energy systems to the grid comes down to one thing: location. Now, with a new hosting capacity tool in place, families and businesses can invest in distributed energy systems with more certainty and less red tape.

Bringing tenants more efficient housing: In partnership with Community Stabilization Project, Fresh Energy is helping to create housing that’s more energy efficient for multifamily tenants in Saint Paul.

Not all energy is created equal: Using energy when demand is low helps reduce the need for costly energy infrastructure. Now, thanks to a new pilot time of use rate design from Xcel Energy, it could also save you money.

In the weeds on solar and wind fees: After several years of uncertainty for rural Minnesota families and businesses surrounding their solar and wind investments, the Public Utilities Commission finally ruled in favor of greater scrutiny on solar and wind fees for cooperative customers.

Xcel Community Solar turns 3: As community solar turns three, solar gardens are blooming around the state and the program seems to have found its rhythm, growing to more than 200 megawatts in 2017.

Energy News Network expanding: Thanks to major new support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Energy News Network will be expanding to six regions across the country in the coming years.

Making solar work for all: In response to Xcel Energy proposing a pilot program to offer energy efficiency and solar to low income residents in Saint Paul, Fresh Energy is pushing for that project to serve as a model for residents across Xcel’s service territory.

Pollinator habitat makes solar sweeter: As ground-mounted solar sites spring up around the Minnesota, most include an important feature: pollinator habitat. Beekeepers are buzzing about the opportunity and other states are now following our lead.

Fairer pricing for pollution: This year, in a victory for public health, clean air, and homegrown clean energy, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission updated calculations to reflect the true cost that air pollution imposes on Minnesotans.

Fully charged: As more new and used electric cars come to market, momentum is building to electrify not just cars but also buses.

Better buildings: In some of our communities, buildings make up more than half of the carbon emissions we create. That means we need to not only build better new buildings, but also fix up our old ones. Fresh Energy helped local governments and other leaders do more.

Slowing down the rollbacks: 2017 wasn’t a great year for energy at the Minnesota Capitol, but thanks to Fresh Energy and our partners, Minnesota’s foundational energy policies were protected.

Protecting energy savings: Higher fixed charges every month take away customers’ chances to save money by conserving energy. Thankfully, Fresh Energy and our partners helped hold Xcel’s fixed charge flat.

Ottertail customers get clean energy: In 2017, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Otter Tail Power Company’s new 15-year Resource Plan, affirming that additional clean energy investments are a good bet for the utility’s customers.

Looking ahead, Fresh Energy is prepared to address some big opportunities and challenges on the horizon:

  • The 2018 legislative session may bring continued attempts to weaken energy laws, but Fresh Energy will be there to lead defense and tee up win-win policy improvements.
  • All eyes will be on the Governor’s race and Fresh Energy has already started providing data-driven non-partisan candidate education to ensure that whoever leads our state next will have a strong foundation in and commitment to a clean energy future.
  • Utility planning processes and rate cases will shape the energy mix of the future, and Fresh Energy will provide policy leadership and expertise, helping Minnesota move toward less coal and more energy efficiency, wind, solar, and energy storage.
  • Other crucial Fresh Energy-led initiatives—including updates to state interconnection standards, programs to replace gas-powered transportation with clean electric cars and buses, and initiatives to help renters and low-income households gain better access to energy efficiency—will come to fruition in the coming year.

Fresh Energy is your clean energy champion. Stay in touch to get the latest information on our work together toward a healthy future by signing up for our monthly updates here.