Late this afternoon, Rep. Pat Garofalo posted a bold and significant omnibus bill on the web page for the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. This author has not gone through the bill in detail, but calls out the following provisions as noteworthy based on a quick review this afternoon:
- Article 2: Changes related to energy conservation, including a December 31, 2016, sunset to the conservation improvement program, and corresponding creation of an energy conservation advisory taskforce with appropriation of funds for an energy technology business accelerator.
- Article 3: Modifications related to renewable energy, including creation of an “advanced energy standard” that counts all hydroelectric generation as an eligible renewable technology in meeting an RPS increased by 2%; allowance for the solar energy standard to be met “through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable elligible energy technology;” creation of new siting and approval requirements for solar energy generating systems; modifications to the Made in Minnesota incentives; and a repeal of the Value of Solar subdivision in section 216B.164.
- Article 4: Elimination of the 80% by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions goal and replacement of it with a continued goal of a general reduction in an affordable manner.
- Article 5: Changes to general rate provisions, including an affirmative statement “to position Minnesota at the median among states with respect to energy rates;” establishment of a new performanced-based multiyear plan for utilities and competitive rate for energy-intensive trade-exposed customers (similar to e21 recommendations, coverage here); creation of a compressed natural gas vehicle rebate program; and direction to study the functions of the Department of Commerce – Division of Energy Resources, the low-income heating assistance programs, and the feasibility and potential costs and benefits of creating a state public power authority.
The Minnesota legislature will be on break next week, which will allow the bill some time to simmer before the legislature returns and takes these proposals up for discussion. On March 19, the Senate Energy Committee voted out its omnibus bill. Although there are similarities between the two bills, there are significant differences. How these two pieces of proposed legislation proceed will be interesting to watch!