With signs of renewal and rejuvenation, it is no wonder that the season of spring is a favorite for many Minnesotans – me included. But this year, spring brings with it a challenging mix of hope, trauma, restoration, and risk.
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more accessible and vaccination rates increase, the close-knit Fresh Energy team is beginning to look forward to spending time together away from Zoom. With the race between mass vaccination and the rapid spread of new variants of the virus, we know that time could still be months away. However, when it does arrive, staff will re-enter office life in a newly renovated and more vibrant office setting reflective of Fresh Energy’s mission, vision, and collaborative style. Our new space can still be found in the historic Hamm Building in downtown Saint Paul, just one floor above our former offices.
As we breathe sighs of relief watching friends, family, and colleagues get vaccinated, fear and anxiety persist as we await justice for George Floyd. The start of the Derek Chauvin trial has added to the already monumental trauma experienced by Black Minnesotans and Minnesotans of color. Fresh Energy’s organization-wide Commitment to Anti-Racism recognizes that racism is a systemic, institutional, structural, and individual problem in the United States. We continue to take intentional action guided by this commitment because we are committed to transforming the systems and structures that cause systemic inequities, to create the profound change that is needed in Minnesota and beyond.
Throughout the winter and into spring, Fresh Energy has been actively working at the state legislature to help Minnesota step up and lead during a time of major federal policy change. Partisan divides aside, the legislative session has been productive and dynamic for clean energy, as well as energy access and equity. With nearly a dozen staff engaged in testimony under the direction of Justin Fay, Fresh Energy’s lead director of public affairs, we are seeing many excellent bills make their way through the process. But much remains up in the air.
As the only legislature in the United States with one body controlled by each political party—can Minnesota demonstrate to the country that bipartisan energy policy is still possible? That question raises both hope and risk in equal measure.
Fresh Energy is working hard, in partnership with nonprofits around the state to encourage Minnesota legislators to step up and lead through policy that benefits all Minnesotans. We’re actively working to:
- Encourage bonding and finance chairs to find funds to help small businesses in Minnesota’s under-resourced communities rebuild right and incorporate energy efficiency into buildings that are being rebuilt after unrest in 2020.
- Establish goal setting to dramatically reduce energy use and emissions from the buildings sector.
- Make major progress on Governor Walz’s plan to reach 100% carbon-free energy.
- Power school buses and transit buses with clean electricity, benefiting the Minnesotans of all ages who ride them and the communities they travel through.
- Put our gas utilities on the steady path to decarbonize.
- Encourage all utilities to save energy and cut emissions.
Stay tuned for a mid-session legislative update from Justin Fay as well as the Fresh Energy take on the recently announced American Jobs Plan in the coming week.
As we anxiously await the unfolding of these 2021 moments of change and restoration, Fresh Energy stands with you as we all envision a better world.