On the Horizon: The Path to 100%

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Fresh Energy was proud to stand alongside Governor Tim Walz in early 2019 as he announced the One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy. Among the first major policy initiatives of the Walz Administration, the package was built around a historic proposal to achieve 100% clean electricity statewide in Minnesota by 2050.

Minnesota’s divided Legislature has failed to agree on the Governor’s proposal for two years—but the clean energy revolution has continued unabated. Wind, solar, and on-grid storage are now consistently the least-cost resource and more economic than both new gas and existing coal generation. The economic case is clear and it is time for Minnesota to take bold action to commit to carbon-free electricity. As we enter 2021, Fresh Energy is dedicated to making it happen.

Earlier this year, a study from the University of California-Berkeley reported a game-changing finding: 90% clean electricity no later than 2035 is not only feasible, but can be accomplished nationally while actually decreasing wholesale electricity costs. That’s a huge deal…and it is imperative that policymakers center that new reality as we work toward our even larger goal of equitable carbon neutrality by mid-century.

As we build the electricity system of the future, the question now is less about what the end goal should be—a carbon-free electric grid—and more about how quickly we can get there. The UC-Berkeley study points to a critically important nuance: On the road to 100% electricity, the technically hardest portion to achieve will be the final 10% of the system—but when we achieve the final 10% is actually less critical than how quickly we can lock in the first 90%.

The scientific consensus is that global emissions must be roughly cut in half by 2030 in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. That means the electric sector must decarbonize faster and be the bedrock on which economy-wide decarbonization is ultimately achieved.

Accelerating Minnesota’s clean electricity transformation is at the heart of Fresh Energy’s vision as we prepare for the 2021 session of the Minnesota Legislature. But we are not stopping there–we are working to advance a suite of policies to transform Minnesota’s economy in ways that are ambitious, equitable, and achievable

  • Rapidly transitioning to cleaner transportation options by finalizing the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking process and developing policy that incentivizes cleaner fuel options.
  • Driving the building sector to produce cleaner, more efficient buildings through a combination of improved statewide energy codes and ambitious policy goals.
  • Further unlocking energy efficiency by modernizing Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program.
  • Ensuring that all Minnesotans benefit from the clean energy transition by focusing on workforce development, affordable housing, and local, family-supporting jobs in the clean energy sector.

Learn more! Tune into our December 10 episode of “Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast” on your favorite podcasting app or stream here for a discussion between Fresh Energy’s Executive Director Michael Noble,  Director of Public Affairs Justin Fay, and Policy and Public Affairs Associate Anna Johnson about our plans and expectations for the 2021 session of the Minnesota Legislature.