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 fact that more than 57,000 Minnesotans are employed in the clean energy industry – and that we have concerns about proposed cuts to energy efficiency and renewable energy research programs, which focus on making clean energy even cheaper, further spurring market growth. We are pleased to see so much support in Washington for clean energy entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses, particularly as they continue to invest in Minnesota, create jobs,and drive our state’s economy forward.
While in Washington, CEEM also had the opportunity to discuss the solar tariff implications with members of Congress as well as with our friends at the Canadian Embassy. We also discussed the importance of strong Energy Title programs as part of the next Farm Bill with members. These are important issues for our organization and we will continue to work on them in order to lower energy costs and to expand economic development opportunities for Minnesotans.
These meetings proved highly useful – both in hearing what offices were working on and what was at the top of their priority lists – and for us in highlighting policies and programs that will drive further clean energy progress and sharing the success stories of clean energy businesses back in Minnesota.
What kept coming up was that supporting the growth of clean energy jobs and investment in Minnesota was something everyone cared about and supported. Regardless of political affiliation – jobs and economic growth is something everyone can get behind.
While the vast majority of CEEM’s work is conducted in Minnesota, keeping tabs on Washington – and ensuring our federal lawmakers are educated on policies that will continue to move our industry forward – is also a critical part of fulfilling our mission.
We also made sure to thank a number of lawmakers – particularly Rep. Emmer and Rep. Paulsen for helping strip out harmful provisions to the wind and solar industries that had originally been included in the Tax Bill.
Congressman Nolan announced he would not be seeking re-election just days before our arrival. Our meeting with him was very jovial. We thanked him for his many years of service to Minnesota and for his understanding of the solar tariff issue and how it may impact the Iron Range.
We are thankful to all our elected leaders for taking the time to visit with us – and for their support of clean energy jobs and innovation in Minnesota.
Today, renewable energy accounts for 18 percent of the overall energy mix in the U.S. – the highest percentage ever. As the industry continues to gain momentum and costs continue to fall – clean energy businesses play a crucial role in bolstering Minnesota’s economy – and CEEM will be there to give voice to the needs of our industry at both the state and federal levels.