The 2020 legislative session has just begun, but we’ve been working since the close last session to grow support for our clean energy goals. We had some exciting successes in 2019 and we’re geared up to make 2020 an even bigger year for clean energy.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and his administration have shown a strong commitment to elevating climate, and new clean energy leaders in the legislature, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park and new Senate DFL minority leader Susan Kent of Woodbury, have been building momentum for change.
In the short run, Minnesota’s political climate remains complicated. Ours is the only state with two legislative chambers controlled by different parties, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate and Democrats in the Minnesota House. Fortunately, Fresh Energy has a long-standing track record of working across party lines to advance sound public policy.
In 2019, Fresh Energy policy proposals on advanced building performance standards, pollinator-friendly solar, electric vehicle infrastructure, and energy benchmarking in public schools all had bipartisan support—with Democrats leading in the House and Republicans leading in the Senate. View our complete list of accomplishments here. We will continue that commitment in 2020, working with a wide range of partners and stakeholders who are committed to a better future for our state.
With the scope of the climate crisis more apparent than ever, incremental progress is no longer enough. And as a nonpartisan thought leader in a divided state, Fresh Energy has a greater responsibility than ever to develop and lead innovative approaches that unify people from diverse perspectives.
2020 State Policy Priorities
Completion of Rulemaking to Adopt Clean Cars Minnesota. In September, Governor Walz announced that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) would be developing rules to adopt zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) and low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards—putting Minnesota on a path to cleaner transportation options and unlocking the systemic benefits of beneficial electrification. The Clean Cars Minnesota rules are expected to be finalized by the end of 2020. In order to get there, Fresh Energy will provide ongoing technical guidance to MPCA as well as issue campaign expertise and programmatic support for the governor’s proposal.
Advancing the Governor’s One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy. The Walz Administration’s signature energy policy package includes three components: a 100 percent by 2050 carbon-free electricity standard, a suite of urgently needed updates to Minnesota’s flagship energy conservation program, and a modernized regulatory framework known as “Clean Energy First.” Fresh Energy strongly supports the governor’s vision—our Executive Director Michael Noble was honored to share the podium with Governor Walz at his event announcing this proposal in early 2019—and we look forward to making additional progress on all three policy components in 2020.
Advanced Building Performance Standards. Across Minnesota, cities are leading on combating climate change through ambitious local commitments. A rapidly emerging area of focus is the building sector—ensuring that new construction is built to efficiency performance standards that meet the needs of our climate, not just the bare minimum. However, cities currently lack the necessary policy and regulatory tools to drive building sector innovation. This policy would allow cities to adopt an optional, more aggressive uniform standard for building performance. Buildings are long-term investments—so it’s critical that we build them right.
Fresh Energy will also be building strategic partnerships through two new initiatives that highlight the multiple benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency:
Conservation Solar: Through better project design and siting, solar can be a tool for driving landscape-scale benefits for clean water, wildlife habitat, and local farmers. Building on Fresh Energy’s nation-leading pollinator-friendly solar policy, this policy lays the groundwork for considering broader benefits when permitting and siting new solar projects.
Energy Efficient Nursing Homes: Across Minnesota, elder care facilities are facing unprecedented need with insufficient resources. In many rural communities, the local nursing home is among the largest local employers and a vital cog in local economies. Investing in energy efficiency in nursing homes reduces costs, creates new construction jobs and protects existing workers, improves indoor air quality and quality of life for residents, and allows communities statewide to experience the benefits of energy efficiency.
As the legislative session moves forward Fresh Energy will not only work to advance progress—we will work with our partners to stop proposed bills that would move us backward on energy.
Stay tuned for regular updates and visit our Take Action page for ways to get involved.
Stay up to date on Fresh Energy’s 2020 legislative priorities and efforts to shape energy policy in Minnesota! Visit our Take Action page for ways to get involved and subscribe to our e-mail newsletter Powering Progress, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest news.
You can also listen to myself and Michael Noble, Fresh Energy’s Executive Director, discuss our plans for session in “Decarbonize,” our new podcast! Find it online here or on major podcast providers including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.