Legislative Update: Mid-session status check

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The 2022 session of the Minnesota Legislature is well underway and with just two months remaining and committee deadlines looming, we are pleased to be making progress on some key pieces of legislation. Fresh Energy staff have been stepping up and providing written and oral testimony at more than 15 hearings thus far, with many more to come. While we are always excited about the clean energy and climate bills at the Legislature, we wanted to share three of our top priorities at this session midpoint.

Electric panel upgrade bill

Fresh Energy’s Mari Ojeda testifies before the House Climate and Energy Committee.

Upgrading a home or apartment’s electric panel is an expensive undertaking. This cost is a significant barrier for Minnesotans who want to upgrade their existing gas appliances—like stoves, water heaters, and dryers—to cleaner and more efficient electric technologies. However, this switch is crucial as we work to eliminate pollution from the building sector that contributes to climate change and harms human health.

To help tackle this growing problem, Fresh Energy’s policy experts have been working with bipartisan bill authors, Senator Jason Rarick (GOP – Pine City) and Representative Athena Hollins (DFL – Saint Paul), to write and advance a first-of-its-kind bill (SF4024/HF3897) that creates an assistance program for property owners who want to upgrade and future-proof their electric panel—making Minnesota’s existing housing stock innovation-ready while providing important health and safety benefits and reducing future costs.

Updating the commercial energy code

Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick testifies before the House Climate and Energy Committee.

Buildings are a top source of carbon pollution—both globally and in Minnesota—contributing 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. And while Minnesota’s electricity and transportation sectors are getting cleaner, pollution from buildings continues to grow every year. One of the solutions to this problem is updating Minnesota’s energy codes.

Improving Minnesota’s commercial energy code to achieve greater energy savings has been a multi-year goal for Fresh Energy and continues to be a high priority this session. Fresh Energy is working with bipartisan bill authors, Senator Dave Senjem (GOP – Rochester) and Representative Jamie Long (DFL – Minneapolis), and a broad coalition of stakeholders to advance legislation that will help modernize Minnesota’s commercial energy code, ensure long-term certainty for industry stakeholders, and begin to address the largely unchecked climate emissions from Minnesota’s building sector.

Maximizing federal investments in Minnesota

Fresh Energy is relentlessly pursuing state matching dollars to ensure that Minnesota fully leverages the historic opportunity presented by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This is a unique opportunity to advance everything from electric school buses to a more resilient electric grid. Some of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds—as much as 40 percent—will come in the form of competitive grants over the next five years. However, the Legislature must act in 2022 to avoid missing out on this unprecedented investment in Minnesota’s future infrastructure.

There is much more to come this session, so stay tuned for future updates! And, while you’re here, why not email your legislators to urge them to set politics aside and ensure we take advantage of the historic opportunity to bring additional infrastructure funds to Minnesota! Click here for more details.