After more than seven hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed HF7, as amended, by a 70-60 vote along party lines. It would require utilities doing business in the state to use entirely carbon-free sources for electricity production by 2040. And that means pushing the accelerator on the use of solar and wind energy within the state. Sponsored by House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL-Mpls), the bill would have Minnesota join 21 other states that have established a 100% clean energy standard or goal.
“Minnesota is one of the top states in the country in seeing change to our climate,” says Long. “Some have asked us what one state alone can do. Collectively, states can make a big difference. The bill before us today would put us on track to achieve the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that the world’s leading scientists are telling us are required. And it would unlock even bigger emission reductions in the transportation and industrial sectors.”
In addition to establishing the carbon-free standard by 2040, the bill would streamline the siting and routing process for solar energy generating systems, clarify in state law what qualifies as a renewable energy source, and specify under what circumstances the Public Utilities Commission can allow the modification or delay of new renewable, carbon-free or solar standards. Long said that this would provide some “off-ramps” if clean energy technologies prove too unreliable or expensive.
In addition to lifting the cap on the generating capacity of hydroelectric facilities in order for them to be called “carbon-free,” the bill would encourage giving preference for building new generating facilities in communities where fossil-fuel generating facilities have been or are scheduled to be retired. It would also require the state’s prevailing wage be paid to workers constructing or repowering large generating facilities.
In 2007, the state established its previous standard of 25% of the state’s energy being from renewable sources by 2025. It achieved that goal in 2017.