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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Minnesotta Governor Signs Energy and Climate Bill

Governor Pawlenty Signs the 'Next Generation Energy Act' establishing greenhouse gas and energy use reduction goals

[From a Governor's office press release:]

Following through on the sweeping energy initiatives he outlined last December, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 [on May 25th].

The Governor's energy plan puts Minnesota squarely at the front of states leading the way toward our nation's energy future. The legislation signed today will increase energy efficiency, expand community based energy development, and establish a statewide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supplements the aggressive 25 x '25 renewable energy standard proposed by the Governor and signed earlier this year.

“The best time to have taken action on energy issues would've been 30 years ago. The second best time is right now," Governor Pawlenty said. "The nation has been asleep at the switch, but here in Minnesota we are kick-starting the future by increasing our nation-leading per capita renewable fuel use, boosting cost saving measures and tackling greenhouse gas emissions."

Governor Pawlenty first introduced his Next Generation Energy Initiative in December 2006 to provide more renewable energy, more energy conservation, and less carbon emissions for Minnesota.

Following the framework developed early in the legislative session with the passage of the nation’s most aggressive Renewable Energy Standard, the Next Generation Energy Act establishes nation-leading requirements on Minnesota’s electric utilities while ensuring reliability and protecting the cost-competitiveness of Minnesota’s electric system.

The legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support and was co-authored by Rep. Bill Hilty and Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon.

The Next Generation Energy Act includes:

  • Energy Savings Goals: The Demand Efficiency Initiative builds on Minnesota’s existing conservation program, consistently ranked in the top five programs in the country. It will effectively double the amount of energy saved by Minnesota’s utilities by transitioning Minnesota from energy efficiency spending goals to energy efficiency savings goals. The bill also sets a goal of 1,000 Energy Star Buildings in Minnesota by 2010 and provides adequate funding to achieve the goal.

  • Community Based Energy Development: The Next Generation Energy Act expands and strengthens Minnesota’s commitment to the development of locally-owned renewable energy projects. Previous legislation also increases funding for community energy outreach through Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) throughout the state.

  • Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction: According to the National Conference of State Legislators, the Next Generation Energy Act propels Minnesota into the top two states (with California) leading the way towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The bill establishes statewide GHG reduction goals of 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050. The bill also endorses the Governor’s Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group as the entity to develop a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction plan to meet those goals.

  • Earlier this year, the Governor signed legislation containing the first components of his Next Generation Energy Initiative:

  • 25x’25 Renewable Electricity Requirements The nation’s most aggressive Renewable Energy Standard requires Minnesota’s electric utilities to provide 25% renewable electricity by 2025.
  • Next Generation BioEnergy and BioFuels Governor Pawlenty signed legislation to appropriate over $35 million for energy projects and research including:

    o $15 million for bioenergy, biomass electricity, biofuels, plug-in hybrid technologies, renewable hydrogen and solar technology projects.
    o $17 million for energy research, including funding for the U of M Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.
    o $3 million to double the number of E85 stations in Minnesota from the nation-leading 300 stations to 600 stations.

    In addition, the NextGen Energy Board is established and will begin meeting next month to develop bioenergy and biofuels policies and recommendations.

    “The Next Generation Energy Initiative is providing the pathway to a better energy future,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Minnesota is the leader in energy policy that benefits the environment, rural economies, national security and consumers.”

    Well done Minnesota! If you're interested in the development and debates surrounding these bills, head over to and poke through their archives for lots of detailed posts discussing the renewable energy standard and the Next Generation Energy Initiative.

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