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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jamie Long (DFL)

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Minnesota House expected to pass legislation to invest in clean energy and solutions to the climate crisis

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House is expected to pass the Climate and Energy supplemental finance bill. The bill invests in clean energy and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy costs, and create jobs and economic growth. 

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to lead the transition to clean energy,” said Rep. Jamie Long (DFL - Minneapolis), chair of the Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee. “House DFLers are seizing this opportunity to address the climate crisis. We’re investing in innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower the cost of energy, and create good-paying jobs.” 

To lower the cost of energy and create jobs, House DFLers are making significant investments in weatherization. The budget expands the Weatherization Assistance Program that helps low-income Minnesotans make their homes safer and more energy efficient. As a result, people could save hundreds of dollars a year. 

“Minnesota should be a leader in clean energy, and the time to act is now,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “House DFLers are taking strong steps to grow our clean energy economy and address climate change. This will help secure a clean energy future and a healthy climate for the next generation of Minnesotans.” 

The budget contains funding for several clean energy initiatives. It expands the popular Solar for Schools grant program and creates a similar program to help local governments purchase and install solar panels on public buildings. The bill also extends Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program, supports research and development of clean energy technologies, and establishes a Minnesota Innovation Finance Authority to help finance sources of energy that are cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable than fossil fuels. Since building new solar and wind plants is often cheaper than operating existing fossil fuel plants, these investments may lower energy costs. They’ll create good-paying jobs as well. 

To help communities withstand severe weather and impacts of climate change, the budget delivers the funding required to match federal funds that are coming to Minnesota thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The funds will be used to update critical infrastructure. House DFLers are also investing in energy storage. This will strengthen Minnesota’s electrical grid, make clean energy more affordable, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and energy imported from other locations. 

Since people of color and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by climate change, House DFLers are making sure all Minnesotans can access jobs and other benefits created during the transition to clean energy. Under this legislation, utilities, owners of solar gardens, and projects that receive Renewable Development Account funds are required to issue annual reports on workplace diversity. The bill also requires the Minnesota Department of Commerce to provide technical support to any of the 11 federally recognized tribes in the state that establish an advisory council on energy and request assistance. 

The budget provides funding to install electric vehicle charging stations at state and regional parks, rest stops, and county government centers throughout Minnesota. It covers some of the costs auto dealers incur to sell electric vehicles and directs the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to update the state’s building codes so new and remodeled commercial buildings and multi-family homes are better prepared to support electric vehicles. Significantly, the bill provides funding for electric buses and paves the way for electric school buses as well. These investments will help Minnesotans travel safely, save money, and prevent air pollution.