What’s happening at the legislature? March update

Update 3/26: The House Energy and Climate Committee put forth an ambitious and visionary omnibus bill on March 25 (here it is, for the policy lovers!), and Fresh Energy, advocates, and the public are currently providing testimony. The bill includes provisions for community solar, energy storage, stretch building codes, clean energy by 2050, and much more. Follow along on Twitter for live updates from the hearings.


It’s been an action-packed month at the Capitol! With first committee deadline now behind us, the scope and outline of the 2019 session is finally taking shape. Fresh Energy is playing a big role providing policy leadership to achieve specific clean energy advancements by leading on major initiatives. Below is a recap of our recent work.

100 percent carbon-free energy. Late last month, Governor Tim Walz officially announced his Administration’s support for a 100 percent carbon free standard. This is a major commitment and comes hot on the heels of a similar announcement by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and adoption of a 100 percent carbon free standard by New Mexico. The 100 percent standard is the centerpiece of a package that also includes Clean Energy First, a reform of the Conservation Improvement Program and important worker/local hiring provisions. Fresh Energy’s Executive Director, Michael Noble, was personally invited by the Governor to speak at the press conference. Catch a recording of this historic moment.

Beneficial Electrification.  Fresh Energy’s Beneficial Electrification bill creates a framework and guides implementation of electrification plans by investor owned utilities, like Xcel Energy. Placing beneficial electrification into state statute also provides the Public Utilities Commission guidance and authority on how to regulate utilities towards whole-economy decarbonization. Fresh Energy provided testimony alongside utility and labor allies in support of beneficial electrification to the House Energy and Climate committee on March 7.

Public Schools Energy Benchmarking. Minnesota’s B3 benchmarking system, which helps local school districts input and track their energy usage, is available free of charge to all public K12 schools in the state. And it’s quick and easy to use! Fresh Energy provided testimony to the Senate Education Committee on March 13 to help legislators understand the impact and scope of this bi-partisan bill, which will save school districts thousands of dollars in energy costs, if implemented.

Electric Vehicles. Four electric vehicle bills were introduced in late February and we are enthusiastic about their potential. Two of the bills would set aside money for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and a third bill would add electric vehicles to the Minnesota Department of Transportation agency mission statute. A fourth bill also builds in point-of-sale rebates for electric vehicle buyers—an important incentive to maximize electric vehicle ownership in our state! 

Building Codes. It’s good news and bad news for legislation impacting the efficiency, safety and sustainability of buildings in Minnesota. In the House, legislation supported by Fresh Energy would allow cities the option to adopt a uniform stretch code – an urgently needed tool for reducing carbon emissions from the building sector. In the Senate, however, legislation is moving that would require the Legislature to approve changes to the building code – creating uncertainty for businesses and inserting politics into a process that is supposed to work objectively in the public interest.

Progress at the Capitol keeps moving forward and we’ll be there following all the action. Follow us on Twitter for the live scoop.

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