Blog

Tensions increase at the Minnesota Legislature

April 16, 2018

Last week, the legislature came back from a week-long spring recess. Upon returning to the Capitol lawmakers have just six weeks to finish all major bills before they are constitutionally mandated to adjourn in May.

This week, April 20, is the third committee deadline, the day all major spending bills should have been heard in their respective committees. We expect to see both the Senate and House energy omnibus bills early next week.

What we’re working on:

Defending the Solar Energy Standard -- H.F. 3003 was amended to exempt Minnesota Power and Ottertail Power from the requirements of the Solar Energy Standard. Additionally, the bill removes the 10% statewide solar energy standard altogether.

Build Minnesota’s Talent Pipeline (And get an intern at a discount!)

April 16, 2018

Minnesota’s workforce shortage is a frequent topic of discussion. It’s a troubling issue that has the potential to squeeze quickly growing industries like clean energy.

Fortunately, there are some fantastic resources that can help clean energy and energy efficiency businesses get a boost, like the SciTechsperience Internship Program, which provides small to mid-sized companies with a 50 percent wage match worth up to $2,500.

About SciTechsperience

This free state-funded program has no fees (really!), the company makes the hiring decision, and the reimbursement process is fast and easy. Companies can refer candidates to apply or look through a database of more than a thousand pre-qualified students.

The countdown begins: Six weeks to go of the 2018 Legislative Session

April 4, 2018

2018 Legislative Session Update with Logan O'Grady 

The legislature is on recess this week for their annual Easter/Passover break. This spring recess gives legislators the chance to head back to their districts to catch up with constituents before returning to the Capitol for the final few weeks of session which is constitutionally mandated to adjourn sine die by May 21.

It has been a short but busy 2018 session. In fact, lawmakers have introduced a record 8,207 bills between last year and this year (so far). Our team at CEEM has remained focused on the key bills that will continue to grow Minnesota’s clean energy economy, including:

Energy Storage (S.F. 3266/

Clean Energy Business Day at the Capitol

March 27, 2018

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota has successfully wrapped up our second annual Clean Energy Business Day at the Capitol. This year we partnered with Wind on the Wires (WoW), Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) and U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Clean Energy Business Day is an important opportunity for those involved in clean energy and energy efficiency to share their business stories and experiences with policymakers. These conversations help educate lawmakers about why smart clean energy policies can help benefit all Minnesotans.

We kicked off the day in the Capitol Rotunda and welcomed Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Shawntera Hardy to the podium to give

2018 Legislative Session Update

March 8, 2018

The 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session is in full swing at the Capitol. Two weeks into a short, 10-week session and the priority issue areas are starting to take shape.

With news that Minnesota has a projected $329 million budget surplus, possible new spending is again on the table. Governor Mark Dayton plans to submit a supplemental budget proposal to the legislature in the coming weeks and lawmakers may begin to examine any small budget proposals that did not make the cut last year.

Both the House and Senate energy committees have started meeting regularly, holding hearings on some of this year’s top issue areas. The first deadline we are focused on is March 22, in which bills introduced in either the House or Senate

Get the Facts: Clean Energy Delivers for Minnesota

March 7, 2018

March began with some exciting energy news for Minnesota. Among the headlines: renewables are now Minnesota's second largest source of electricity. And, according to data just released from the Department of Energy, a full 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy generation comes from renewable sources -- meeting our state’s Renewable Energy Standard a full seven years early.

This was big news -- and it helped us kick off our our second annual briefing for the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook and Minnesota State Energy Factsheet, which is produced by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

The 2018 Factbook (available here) provides the latest, accurate

CEEM highlights clean energy jobs and innovation in Washington D.C

February 20, 2018

WASHINGTON D.C. – Amid a backdrop of simultaneously good and bad news for the clean energy industry in Minnesota (48 percent job growth in the state’s solar industry and 72 percent federal budget cut proposed for the Department of Energy) Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) took the opportunity to meet with congressional offices in Washington D.C. in February to discuss the state’s explosive growth in clean energy jobs and innovation.

CEEM is grateful for the opportunity to meet with nearly every member of our congressional delegation. We discussed Minnesota’s fast-growing clean energy sector, and the ways in which we’d like to see this growth continue, unhindered.

We shared some of Minnesota’s clean energy statistics; like

The Future of Energy Efficiency

February 16, 2018

Lily Osborne shares her experiences at the 2018 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference

Leading up to Valentine’s Day I learned a fun fact from Stacey Paradis, Executive Director of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), that at  $2 billion in annual investment the Midwest energy efficiency industry is as large as the online dating industry – a surprising comparison to me!

Moreover, 86 percent of Minnesotans working in the clean energy sector have jobs in energy efficiency.

The scale of the industry was one big reason I was excited to participate in MEEA’s annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in February. The three-day event drew attendees from thirteen states in our region with many

CEEM predictions for the 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session

February 7, 2018

We are heading into what is sure to be an exciting year in Minnesota politics.

Al Franken’s resignation from the U.S. Senate and, subsequently, former Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith’s appointment to replace him has caused a constitutional argument. The question posed is whether state Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-St. Joseph), who, as President of the Minnesota Senate, automatically became Lieutenant Governor upon Smith’s appointment, can hold two elected offices at once (she intends to ascend to the Lieutenant Governor’s office while simultaneously holding her seat as a State Senator). This question will likely be answered by the courts, but the appointment of Smith means that in the 2018 midterm elections, Minnesota will

Grid Modernization: Let’s do Something!

January 29, 2018

You might recognize OATI’s beautiful, glass building that sits just off of 494 and France Avenue in Bloomington. What you might not know, is that when the Department of Energy started its smart grid program more than 15 years ago, OATI led the market in the promise of a smarter, more sustainable electric grid for the future. This company that boasts a worldwide staff of 1,000+ has been quietly working on building smart grid solutions that improve grid reliability, increase consumer involvement -- and decrease costs.

Clean Energy Economy MN recently teamed up with OATI, as well as The Energy Transition Lab (ETL), and Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum (MnCEF) to provide a learning opportunity for Minnesota legislators to tour

75F: a Hot MN Startup, Sparked by Cold MN Winters

January 10, 2018

"If you can drink tap water and breath the air, say shh"

-Atmosphere, "Say Shh"

We all know what a great state we have in MN. And the band Atmosphere helped capture the "Minnesnowta" secret in their song, "Say Shh".  So, when the team at CEEM invited 75F to share our story, we felt inspired to riff off this MN tribute song, sprinkling some lyrics in. Feel free to play it in the background: Atmosphere - Say Shh (Lyric Video)

"I'm from Minnesota, land of the cold air."  

That cold Minnesota air actually set in motion the birth of the concept for 75F. When founder and CEO

R-PACE Task Force Concludes -- Report Due Soon

January 8, 2018

Last session, the Minnesota Legislature temporarily discontinued Minnesota’s Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) program in order to proactively address consumer protection concerns that arose out of incidents that happened in other states, including predatory lending practices that led to foreclosures on vulnerable homeowners.

As part of this legislative solution, policymakers established the R-PACE Consumer Protection Task Force which is charged with developing legislative recommendations to address consumer protection problems and reinstate the R-PACE program in Minnesota.

CEEM is a sitting member of this Task Force and has been meeting with the Department of Commerce and other stakeholders since July

Minnesota’s top 10 gains on clean energy in 2017

January 4, 2018

1. CLEAN ENERGY JOBS OUTPACING OVERALL JOB GROWTH 

Jobs in the solar, wind, energy efficiency and other clean energy industries in Minnesota grew 3.8 times faster than overall job growth last year, and jobs in the renewable energy industry grew 16 percent – or 11 times the rate of overall jobs. Small businesses drive the clean energy sector in Minnesota, with nearly 80% of businesses working in clean energy employing fewer than 25 individuals. All told, Minnesota had 57,351 people working in the clean energy sector last year, mostly in the construction industry.

Source: 2017 Clean Jobs Midwest Report

https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/minnesota

 

2. TARGET REACHES 350

What you need to know about clean energy provisions in the Federal Tax Bill

December 28, 2017

This fall, pretty much everybody had an opinion about the federal tax bill getting put together in Washington D.C. Whether you hated it, loved it -- or fell somewhere in between, the first major tax overhaul bill in years drew plenty of attention during the closing months of 2017.

As a conduit between clean energy businesses in Minnesota and both the state and federal government, Clean Energy Economy MN was watching the construction of the Federal Tax Bill closely. Here is what caught our attention in the first round of bills passed by the House and Senate.

House Bill Clean Energy Provisions:

Direct rollbacks to tax credits. Reduced the value of wind production tax credit (PTC) by 40% by removing

The story of CIP: How a lightbulb can make a big difference on a company’s bottom line

November 30, 2017

Did you know that by 2030, Americans are expected to have saved around $2 trillion in energy efficiency measures alone? Yes, that’s trillion – with a T. And in Minnesota – of the more than 57,000 clean energy jobs located across our state – a staggering  86 percent of those are in the energy efficiency sector. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest energy resource we have in Minnesota: it costs significantly less to save a unit of energy than to buy one.

It is for these reasons that CEEM teamed up with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), Master Electric, and Ace Hardware of Prior Lake to lead a discussion and in-district tour on energy efficiency for Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) this week. The focus of the

Energy Storage -- the Swiss Army Knife of Energy

November 14, 2017

Legislative Energy Commission hearing

A popular topic in the energy sector this year is storage, and the Minnesota state legislature is focused on it too. Among the topics prioritized by the Legislative Energy Commission (LEC) this fall—which have included the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), wind siting, and biomass—energy storage was the focus of the committee’s most recent meeting on November 9.

Image by S&C Electric Company via IREC "Charging Ahead: An Energy Storage Guide for Policymakers."

Minnesota’s LEC is a bipartisan group of legislators from the Senate and House of Representatives who are tasked to review, monitor, and recommend energy policy as it impacts our state’s environment

From Cheerios waste to clean energy – spending Bioenergy Day with Koda Energy

October 18, 2017

SHAKOPEE, MINN -- When you’re stumbling out of bed, and groggily pouring yourself a bowl of Cheerios – we’re guessing the furthest thing from your mind is how that cereal was made – and even further from your thoughts – what happens to the wasted oat hulls after your cereal is processed?

Well luckily, other people do think about that, like Stacy Cook, the General Manager and VP of Operations at Koda Energy, an eight-year-old bioenergy company in Shakopee that consumes more than 500 tons of biomass fuel per day. What begins as leftover oat hulls, wood chips, barley hulls, malt byproducts, beet pulp and even ground up corn cobs at the beginning of the day, is milled into a course flour before being combusted in a boiler.

Introducing Amelia Cerling Hennes - Manager, Marketing and Communications

October 16, 2017

I am Amelia Cerling Hennes and my first few weeks with CEEM have already been so exciting! I am thrilled to be joining Clean Energy Economy MN as their first Marketing and Communications Manager.

It is an exciting time to be working in the clean energy sector and I find myself in awe, surrounded by so many passionate, intelligent and driven people who work in the energy efficiency and clean energy marketplace. In this new role, I plan on helping strengthen the CEEM brand to elevate their work as a partner with clean energy businesses across the state and through advancing smart, clean energy policies at the state level. With a clean energy workforce 57,000 strong in Minnesota – my job is to help highlight the important work

Minnesota’s Growing Clean Energy Jobs

September 19, 2017

We kicked off September with an exciting announcement that Minnesota’s clean energy sector grew 5.3 percent and now totals more than 57,000 jobs. This growth was nearly four times faster than jobs in all other areas of Minnesota’s economy. See more highlights and information about clean energy jobs on our website here.

 

To deliver the news, Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), Sen. Nick Frentz (D-North Mankato), Ken Smith CEO of Ever-Green Energy, Ben Granley President of Werner Electric, and Aaron Pyfferoen, Manager of Solar Procurement for Blattner Energy joined our Executive Director Gregg Mast for an in-person press conference and media call with Greater Minnesota news outlets at the

Highlighting Minnesota's Energy Efficiency Businesses

September 5, 2017

Our team at Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) spent last Wednesday morning at Majestic Custom Electric in Ramsey with State Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), and State Representative Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey).

Majestic has over twenty years of experience in the building industry and has been working with commercial and residential properties to lower their energy costs by replacing outdated lighting systems with more efficient ones utilizing LED light bulbs that are easily retrofitted to an existing structure. Majestic can save a business up to 40% a month on their electricity bills, meaning that the investments made to update a business’s lighting infrastructure pays itself off in an average of just two years.

Majestic

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