Will 2023 Be MN's Big Year for Clean-Energy Policy?
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Despite gains in certain areas, Minnesota is still behind its current goals to reduce carbon emissions. But those in the clean-energy sector see big opportunities in 2023.
Groups pushing for a quicker transition to these sources feel the upcoming legislative session could pave the way for key decisions to accelerate progress.
Amelia Cerling Hennes, director of communications and public affairs for Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, said all the market pieces are there for the state to jump into the fast lane that leads to more non-fossil sources.
She said that should compel lawmakers to adopt a revised state goal of 100% clean energy by 2040.
"That's an important signal to businesses in the state," said Cerling Hennes, "saying, 'Hey, we are committed to this.'"
Cerling Hennes said the timing is right, with clean-energy costs at record lows. And the International Energy Agency now predicts that in a couple of years, renewables will replace coal as the largest source of electricity.
Regional utilities have made efforts to help with Minnesota's transition, but wonder about meeting the proposed goal while balancing affordability and reliability.
In trying to establish more progress, advocates say the Legislature could help by updating building standards for new development.
Becky Wacker is an area manager with Trane, an HVAC and energy services company. She noted that in a colder climate, homes and buildings use a lot of natural gas for heat.
She said that contributes to these structures accounting for 40% of carbon emissions. But there's emerging alternatives.
"Moving towards the electrification of heat in Minnesota, the technology is here," said Wacker. "There's great technology around heat pumps, heat recovery chillers, etc. There's also great thermal storage options."
Wacker said federal policy, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, gives states more tools to work with in embracing these technologies.
Meanwhile, advocates continue to push state lawmakers to approve matching funds for clean-energy projects provided by the federal infrastructure law.
As for reducing transportation emissions, Minnesota is pulling together resources to add more electric vehicle charging stations.
But Cerling Hennes suggested that the state can still dip into its large budget surplus to create an even more enticing market for consumers.
"Putting more money to build out EV charging networks so that consumers feel like if they do get an electric car," said Cerling Hennes, "they can go anywhere in the state and charge because there is still that, kind of, range anxiety that exists."
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