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Report: Crisis Hurt MN Clean-Energy Jobs, But Not Overall Growth

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Thursday, April 15, 2021   

MINNEAPOLIS -- A new report shows continued growth for clean energy in Minnesota, despite the pandemic and other challenges.

The 2021 Minnesota Energy Factsheet shows more than half the electricity generated in the state last year came from non-carbon sources, at 55%, an increase of 7% from the previous year, with renewables accounting for a majority of the total.

Amelia Cerling Hennes, director of communications for Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, said the growth comes amid continued declines of sources like coal.

"Instead of importing coal from out of state, we are increasingly creating our own power in-state, and it's clean power," Hennes explained.

The report showed wind power has been a major driver of Minnesota's clean-energy output. However, the state lost roughly 10,000 clean-energy jobs last year, as the pandemic affected the residential sector.

Meanwhile, the report cited long-term growth in electric-vehicle registrations, even as Republicans in the state Senate oppose efforts to adopt tougher emissions standards.

Hennes argued adopting these standards and getting more electric cars on the road is crucial because of transportation's impact on air quality. Minnesota has seen some struggles in meeting long-term goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

She added that is why growth from renewables can't do it alone.

"And that's why we have policies being discussed like modernizing and strengthening our building codes," Hennes noted.

Ken Smith, President of Ever-Green Energy, a company that specializes in helping buildings and campuses become more energy-efficient, said in Minnesota, he sees owners of large properties becoming more mindful of their carbon footprints.

"Whether it's a community or campus that has set goals as to what they want to achieve, and then they begin putting in place pathways to achieve that," Smith observed.

Even though there is more aggressive planning in this area, he pointed out a lack of funding is a key barrier to moving forward on projects, especially in rural communities.

Disclosure: Clean Energy Economy Minnesota & Clean Grid Alliance Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, and Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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