SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, Governor Tim Walz signed the compromise Commerce and Energy budget bill into law. The legislation invests in clean energy initiatives, responds to the massive increase in catalytic converter thefts, protects students from predatory student loan lending practices, and expands economic education. It includes two major provisions authored by Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora). The first is an investment to expand the Heliene solar manufacturing plant in Mountain Iron, as well as a study on Rep. Lislegard’s “Buy Clean, Buy Fair” initiative to tackle climate change.
“Minnesotans value a clean environment and quality jobs that offer economic security. By enacting Buy Clean, Buy Fair legislation, we can demonstrate exactly how much we value these critical priorities,” Rep. Lislegard said. “This legislation is the first step in a conversation about how we can transform the sourcing of construction materials, ultimately ensuring more of them will be mined here in Minnesota to create good-paying jobs on the Iron Range. We continue to make progress in transitioning to clean energy solutions to stop the harmful effects of climate change. Unfortunately, in other parts of the world, minerals are extracted without regard for damage done to our planet or fair labor standards. With investments like the solar plant in Mountain Iron, this budget will help us fight climate change while strengthening our economy and putting companies and workers in a much better position to succeed.”
The budget invests $5.5 million from the state Renewable Development Account to the Mountain Iron Economic Development Authority toward expansion of the Heliene solar plant, first constructed in 2018 and owned by the city of Mountain Iron. When the expansion is complete, the facility will be the largest solar plant in the Midwest and the second largest in the nation.
Rep. Lislegard’s Buy Clean, Buy Fair legislation would establish concrete steps to evaluate the environmental and labor effects of products used in state government purchasing and procurement, incorporating low-carbon construction requirements. The Commerce and Energy budget invests $125,000 to study the impacts of sourcing cleaner building materials for state sponsored projects.
The Commerce and Energy budget bill language is available here, and a spreadsheet of the included investments can be found here.