Capitol Update

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Current Status

The legislature will recess April 10-16 and once lawmakers return to the Capitol, final budget and policy negotiations will be in full swing with conference committees meeting all day (and even all night). The long days and nights at the Capitol are about to start for CEEM as conference committees begin the hard work of creating bills that can pass both houses. Perhaps more importantly, however, is Governor Dayton’s approval, which may be difficult to receive given the disagreements already being seen between the legislative and executive branches.  We are committed to working with legislators to provide education on the business case for clean energy and we will continue to update you all as session progresses.  Stay tuned!

 

Key Issues this Session

This session, CEEM worked hard to address policy proposals that would have negative impacts on the solar industry in Minnesota. Early in session, both bodies were expediting bills that would fully repeal Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund (RDF) which was created in 1999 to fund renewable energy projects in the state. Part of this fund includes the Made in Minnesota solar incentive program (MiM) which helped create and sustain a competitive Minnesota-based solar industry. CEEM, along with MnSEIA, successfully stopped this legislation from moving forward in the Senate with help from our member solar businesses that wrote letters, made calls, and sat for hours at the Capitol to testify in front of committees. The job is not yet finished, as this provision is still included in the House final budget proposal.

Additionally, CEEM, along with a host of partner organizations, were successful in obtaining a veto by Governor Dayton on a bill that would have stripped neutral, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) oversight of fees applied to solar customers in municipal utility and cooperative electric areas of the state. Already CEEM has seen the negative implications net-metering has on consumer choice and the solar industry. Despite Governor Dayton’s veto of H.F. 234, the Senate has included the exact vetoed language in their final budget proposal. CEEM will continue to work with solar businesses across the state to raise awareness of this provision’s negative consequences.

CEEM also worked on several other bills this session, including support for the Angel Investment Tax Credit (H.F. 89) and introduction of a bill that would appropriate funding for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to update the Minnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile report (S.F. 1972). The Angel Investment bill had a hearing in the House where CEEM offered business testimony in support of updating and increasing the tax credit an investor in clean energy businesses would receive. CEEM is planning to continue legislator education about both bills over interim and going in to next session.

Lastly, CEEM also worked and made progress in pushing a residential biomass heating tax credit bill. S.F. 728 was heard in the Senate Tax Committee this year and laid over for inclusion in the omnibus bill giving us time to lay groundwork with more legislators after session ends and continue our work in the House to receive a hearing next session.

What’s Next?

During our first full session since launching in March of 2016, CEEM worked hard to establish a well-known presence around the Capitol.  CEEM has become a valued organization among our partners because we have shown that we can lead legislative initiatives and garner broad bi-partisan support due to our strong business and economic focus. This is why CEEM was named as a member of the new Residential PACE Consumer Protection Legislation Task Force that will begin meeting this summer to develop consumer protection recommendations to the legislature about the residential PACE program in Minnesota.

CEEM is committed to working with our clean energy businesses to drive policies that expand innovation and clean energy markets in Minnesota. We are looking forward to educating conferees about the economic benefits Minnesota’s clean energy businesses provide to this state.  As a part of this effort, CEEM is hosting our first-ever Clean Energy Business Day at the Capitol.  CEEM, along with MnSEIA, Wind on the Wires, and the U.S. Green Building Council of Minnesota will be hosting Clean Energy Business Day at the Capitol on April 25th. This is a great time for businesses to meet with legislators, participate in a round-table discussion with Lt. Governor Tina Smith, and attend an evening reception. We hope you can join us! Find more details here.

 

Marty Morud, TruNorth Solar - Testifying at House Omnibus Hearing

MN solar companies prepare to educate legislators

Logan O'Grady testifying on the negative impacts to businesses of SF141

Woodmaster, Central Boiler, Sen. Johnson and Anna Dirkswager speak to the benefits of a residential wood heating tax credit

- Posted by Logan