2019 proving an active session for clean energy

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February continued momentum in a very active early session for clean energy. Hot topics include improvements to commercial clean energy financing options, continuing discussions on community solar gardens in the Senate, a bill proposing requiring customers have access to their energy usage data, proposals for solar on schools, and changes to energy efficiency policies.

Commercial PACE

A CEEM supported bill expanding access to Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy now is active with bills in the House (House File 1360) and Senate (Senate File 1779). Rep. Jamie Long authored the bill, heard in the House, featuring support from Michael Thalhimer of All Energy Solar, and CEEM’s Benjamin Stafford (video). For more on how the bills improve financing clean energy projects in Minnesota, check out a recent blog by CEEM’s Lily Osborne.

Community Solar Gardens

Community solar gardens (CSG) continue to be debated in the Senate. Varying bills propose significant changes to the CSG program, and pose significant threats to the industry. CEEM filed a letter in the Senate in opposition to those bills. (Learn more about Senate File 1193, 713, and 488) CEEM is supporting efforts to improve CSG rules and study the benefits of CSG on agricultural communities. The first hearing will be in the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy Committee (Learn more about House File 1796, Senate File 1777).

Energy Data

CEEM supports customer access to their energy data to better inform energy usage and investment in clean energy options. CEEM offered testimony in support of House File 1683. As CEEM’s Benjamin Stafford put it during the hearing "When we create access to energy data we're unleashing a LOT of innovation by attracting third party investment.[...] We have the data, it's time."  (audio).

Clean Energy for Schools

February also focused on clean energy options for schools.Two House bills focused on solar energy systems for schools and establishing a revolving loan fund for school to fund clean energy projects.  (Learn more about HF1133 - Solar energy systems on school buildings; HF1148 - Energy conservation revolving loan fund).

Conservation Improvement Program

Lastly, March begins with a significant bill in the Senate which impacts the state’s conservation improvement program (CIP- learn more here). The CIP requires electric and gas utilities to reach specific energy-savings goals established by a powerhouse piece of legislation, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007.  Senate File 1915 aims to change the program by allowing for a wide array of energy savings options, and by outlining certain exemptions within the program. CEEM believes the significant changes in definitions and program exemption options in SF 1915, poses the potential risk of abandoning CIP as an option for system solutions in many areas of our state. Programs under CIP are a critical tool by which our business community accesses energy efficiency improvement options consistent with their business goals and sustainability aspirations.