Fresh Energy Statement: Electrification and energy efficiency are key tools to move beyond gas

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On July 1, 2022, Fresh Energy and partners with representation from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, gas utilities, labor, and more filed joint comments at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in the Natural Gas Innovation Act docket (#21-566) in support of a framework to include strategic electrification and energy efficiency investments in the new “NGIA plan” program. NGIA plans were created by the Natural Gas Innovation Act (NGIA) which passed the Minnesota Legislature and became law in 2021.

“The point of the Natural Gas Innovation Act is to do exactly what it says: innovate,” said Joe Dammel, managing director, buildings at Fresh Energy. “The science tells us we need to be carbon neutral by 2050 and charting a path to move beyond gas is crucial. With these NGIA plans, Fresh Energy is excited to be collaborating across gas utilities, labor, and beyond to ensure strategic electrification and energy efficiency are important pieces of the solution.”

Together, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, CenterPoint Energy, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation, Greater Minnesota Gas, CEE, LIUNA, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, Partnership on Waste and Energy, and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, and Fresh Energy had a series of productive discussions that resulted in a guiding framework for NGIA plans.

Fresh Energy believes that the approach agreed upon by stakeholders for future NGIA plans has immense potential to build upon Minnesota’s long-standing and successful Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), which was also updated by passage of the Energy Conservation Optimization (ECO) Act in 2021. Fresh Energy and our partners urge the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to accept our recommendations to establish a clear framework for NGIA plans that include strategic electrification and energy efficiency.

This decision will launch the next phase of intensive planning by adding clarity and confidence that all parties will fully explore all the innovation and economic development resources made available by NGIA and we expect a decision from the Commission yet this summer. As the next phase of the work begins, Fresh Energy is looking forward to continuing engagement and bringing more partners and stakeholders with diverse perspectives into the discussion around an equitable energy transition, the public health implications, energy affordability, and beyond.