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New MN Law Touted as Bipartisan Energy-Efficiency Success

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Minnesota officials said an energy-saving program has been effective in reducing household power bills and carbon footprints, and that updating it would provide more benefits. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesota officials said an energy-saving program has been effective in reducing household power bills and carbon footprints, and that updating it would provide more benefits. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
June 1, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesotans will still have opportunities to tap into a program to help keep their energy bills low, while reducing their carbon footprint.

Gov. Tim Walz has signed what's known as the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO Act), which updates the state's Conservation Improvement Program.

Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director for the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, said it ensures the program keeps pace with changing technology within the energy sector.

She noted there are a variety of ways households can take action.

"Something like a low-flow shower head, so you don't need to use as much water, or an aerator for your faucet, rebates on a kitchen appliance, LED lightbulbs," Levenson-Falk outlined.

She contended a modernized program will keep these options viable.

The law also addresses fuel switching, the process of changing from one heat or power source to another that's less costly and more environmentally friendly. Some GOP lawmakers worried it would impact the propane industry, but the bill still saw bipartisan support, along with the backing of utilities, business and environmental groups.

Another key change included expanding program eligibility for low-income households.

Levenson-Falk emphasized it builds on the state's history of trying to help people avoid costly energy bills through targeted programs.

"They've saved billions of dollars for customers over the years, so they're very effective," Levenson-Falk asserted.

The Department of Commerce said the Conservation Improvement Program has provided $6 billion in net benefits, and in one year, reduced 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Minnesota lawmakers remain divided over a variety of other issues, including new clean-car standards being implemented by the Walz administration.

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