Minnesota celebrates Energy Efficiency Day
Energy Efficiency saves money, cuts pollution and creates jobs. What’s not to like? For Energy Efficiency Day, Clean Energy Economy MN is diving into the technical details of the recently passed ECO Act, or Energy Conservation and Optimization. This bipartisan bill enjoyed strong support in both bodies of the legislature and has been hailed as the most significant piece of clean energy legislation to pass in Minnesota in more than a decade.
CEEM, along with our partners Ceres, recently hosted a members-only webinar focused on answering clean energy businesses questions about the bill, and how it’s being implemented. We were happy to invite the following people as speakers:
- Jamie Fitzke | Legislative Policy Manager with Center for Energy Environment
- Anthony Fryer | Conservation Improvement Program Supervisor with the MN Dept. of Commerce
- Jeff Haase | Manager of Member Services and End Use Strategy at Great River Energy
What does the ECO Act do?
Let’s start at the top — which is what does the ECO Act do? Essentially, the ECO Act modernizes the state’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), by bringing innovation, options and savings to Minnesota utilities and their customers.
Jamie Fitzke offered a helpful way to look at these changes, by starting with utilities, and then drilling down to some of the aspects of the bill that were included like load management and efficient fuel switching.
- ECO streamlines their regulatory process
- Utilities now need to prove energy savings and no longer have spending requirements.
- It creates a fuel-neutral framework
- The average Minnesota household will save $600/year on average thanks to these changes to CIP.
- Customers get more efficiency choices to choose from
- They also get more fuel source options
- Energy efficiency creates more local jobs throughout the state
- These are jobs that cannot be outsourced
- Minnesota will be less reliant on fuel imports
- ECO changes mean there is more choice in when to use energy
- Further reduction in residential customer costs
- Avoids building excess infrastructure
Efficient Fuel Switching:
This new part of CIP is limited by the following criteria:
- Must reduce amount of energy used
- Must be cost-effective
- Must not add to utility peak demand
The Department of Commerce’s role in energy savings
Anthony Fryer with the Minnesota Department of Commerce started his presentation with a brief overview of the CIP program, which he reminded participants has helped Minnesota achieve a top 10 ranking in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) state efficiency scorecard for over a decade, and in the Midwest we’re rated number one! He also shared that the CIP program generates at least $4 in benefits to Minnesota for every $1 invested — a very helpful reminder when discussing energy efficiency investments.
Fryer walked through some of the challenging aspects of implementing the ECO Act which includes creating technical guidance for cost-effective load management programs and the new efficiency fuel switching program. He shared several important dates his team at Commerce is working towards.
By December 31, 2021: Department must develop methodology for determining electric sales associated with EV charging.
By March 15, 2022: Department is instructed to provide the following:
- Technical guidelines for IOUs and COUs to determine whether a fuel switching program meets the criteria and calculate the amount of energy saved due to a fuel switching improvement.
- List of pre-weatherization measures eligible for inclusion in low-income programs.
There are several stakeholder meetings coming up that some CEEM members may be interested in attending:
- ECO stakeholder meeting (virtual) | 10am-12pm, November 2, 2021
- Participate in coordinating committee (virtual) | 1pm-3pm, November 10, 2021
Sign up for more ECO related news and events here.
A utilities’ perspective on energy savings
Jeff Haase with Great River Energy rounded out the lunchtime webinar with an excellent presentation on some of the drivers changing demand for electricity.
- Generation of electricity is more variable.
- Electricity is getting cleaner and greener.
- Climate change concerns are not going away.
- End-use technologies are electrifying (like air-source heat pumps and convection ovens).
- Telecommunications are advancing and more flexible.
Haase spoke at length about Minnesota’s growing trend toward electrification, and shared a chart that shows just how much potential there is to electrify — and what that means for utilities like Great River Energy. He says Minnesota can’t simply build our way out of our increased need for energy — which is why efficiency policy like the ECO Act is so critical.
All of our speakers expressed optimism and excitement about Minnesota’s energy future, and the possibilities for increased efficiency that the ECO Act offers. Learn more about Energy Efficiency Day by visiting: https://energyefficiencyday.org/