Volunteer with MN350's Communications Team
100% Clean Energy by 2040 is the law in Minnesota! For five years we rallied, petitioned, made phone calls, and sent lots of emails in support of a 100% bill. All that work paid off this year when the 100% bill quickly passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Walz on February 7. As one of the thousands of people who volunteered in the campaign to pass 100% clean energy, I feel empowered by the win and ready to use the opportunity we have now to do more for climate and equity!
What’s the big deal about 100%?
The 100% Clean Energy law does a lot of important things. First, it secures clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all Minnesotans by requiring utilities to generate power using clean energy methods, the cheapest way of producing power.
More renewable energy sources also means an expanding green energy economy and lots of new jobs, jobs that the bill dictates must pay the prevailing wage in every area.
Ending the fossil fuel economy will begin to clear our air and waters of pollution, preserving Minnesota’s environment and improving the health of communities that have been heavily impacted by fossil fuel pollution.
What’s in the bill?
It’s about 25 pages long, but there are two big victories lodged in the legislature-speak – the 100% clean energy goal and the requirement that the state advance racial, gender, and economic fairness while we move toward that goal.
100% clean energy
This new law requires all Minnesota utilities to be:
- 80% carbon-free by 2030 for public utilities, 60% for smaller utilities
- 90% carbon-free by 2035
- 100% carbon-free by 2040
These limits apply not only to power produced by the utilities but also to power that the utilities buy using regional transmission lines.
Carbon-free production methods include renewables (solar, wind, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, and hydrogen) and carbon-free methods (nuclear). Large energy recovery facilities that release large amounts of pollution like the HERC in Minneapolis are NOT included in the carbon-free methods.
The 100% Clean Energy Bill requires the Public Utilities Commision (PUC) to consider (for the first time!) what impact their decisions will have on historically marginalized communities in environmental justice areas in Minnesota. This includes areas where more than 50% of the residents are nonwhite, 40% or more of the residents have an income below 185% of the federal poverty rate, and areas within Indian country. This means that utilities now have to prove that any changes they propose will benefit those communities, not harm them.
How will we know if utilities are following the law? Utilities now must report every two years to legislative leaders on their progress in:
- Creating family-supporting jobs at prevailing wage rate.
- Providing workers with the tools, opportunities, and assistance needed to transition to clean energy jobs, particularly in environmental justice areas.
- Increasing the diversity of the utility’s workforce and vendors.
- Lowering air emissions, particularly in environmental justice areas.
- Keeping electricity affordable for low-income Minnesotans.
The fight for a better climate future is just beginning!
The 100% clean energy bill is a first (big!) step in Minnesota toward the climate future we all want to see, but there is a lot more work to do. Tee McClenty, Executive Director of MN350, said, “Today we celebrate this step toward the clean energy future we know is needed if our planet has any chance of survival. Tomorrow we continue fighting against false climate solutions such as trash incinerators and carbon capture — and FOR a just transition to regenerative and renewable systems in the energy, food, transportation sectors, and more.”
There is more climate justice legislation being considered right now in the legislature. Want to know more about those pending bills and what you can do to help get them passed? Sign up for the MN350 Policy Action Team to learn how you can help make climate justice a priority in Minnesota.
Jay Lieberman is a retired Agile software development coach. He likes vegetable gardening and doing volunteer work with MN350.