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House passes bill to unlock federal funds for renewable energy projects

Minnesota may go more deeply into the matchmaking business. The federal government is offering grants to states for energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it asks that the states provide some level of financial match to fund those projects.

That’s the impetus behind HF1656, a bill that would create a $115 million “competitiveness fund” to provide grants to state entities in order to secure federal funding for such energy projects. Early Friday morning, the House passed the bill, as amended, by an 83-47 vote, and sent it on to the Senate.

Sponsored by Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL-Minnetonka), the bill was inspired by energy elements within the federal 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act designed to encourage states to employ more renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Operated by the Commerce Department, the grant program would also offer assistance with application processes.

“The State Competitiveness Fund is critical to ensuring that Minnesota is in the best possible position to receive federal energy-related funds and reach our climate goals,” Acomb said in a statement. “This bill will make sure that federal funds are available all across the state, in communities large and small. It aids tribal governments and disadvantaged communities to make sure everyone can benefit in this clean energy transition.”

In addition to an author’s amendment lawmakers adopted two others.

One would cancel unencumbered funds to the General Fund, and the other is a slimmed-down proposal that would have required addressing “roadblocks to private sector growth.”

Offered by Rep. Shane Mekeland (R-Clear Lake), it stated: “The legislature finds that increasing the competitiveness of Minnesota is critically important to ensuring the state's economy is strong and growing. Increasing competitiveness can be accomplished by improving productivity, improving competition, and improving investments.”

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