What 100% means for Minnesota’s clean energy businesses

January 27, 2023
The 100% clean energy bill requires all Minnesota electric utilities to use only carbon-free energy by 2040. Achieving 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 will set a clear and achievable goal for utilities to reach – a goal our business members look forward to helping them achieve.
Wind Turbine Rural Electric Cooperative

What is the 100% bill?

The 100% clean energy bill (Senate File 4 and House File 7) commits all utilities to provide Minnesota customers with 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and sets benchmarks every five years:

  • 80% by 2030
  • 90% by 2035
  • 100% by 2040

This bill has been a work in progress at the Minnesota Legislature since 2019. For the last four years, this bill has been modified and updated to be more ambitious, robust, and in alignment with current science and technology advancements. The bill’s reference to “carbon-free energy” can be produced by renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower, as well as other carbon-free production sources such as nuclear power.

The bill also urges utilities to place new clean energy facilities in communities where fossil-fuel plants are closing, do more to protect historically underserved, and try to diversify the utility’s workforce, among other things.

What does it do for clean energy businesses?

Achieving 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 will set a clear and achievable goal for utilities to reach and provides a clear market symbol that clean energy is here to stay. While 100% clean electricity is the focal point of this bill, the impacts will be economy-wide and will create new family-supporting jobs within Minnesota’s clean energy sector and accelerate our growing clean energy industry.

This transition to clean energy represents a great economic opportunity for Minnesota. Nearly 58,000 Minnesotans work in energy efficiency and clean energy careers. These jobs have historically grown at twice the rate of overall state job growth and, with recently passed federal legislation providing 10 years of certainty, are poised to create thousands of new good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.

Passing this legislation will also send a signal to the rest of the country that Minnesota is committed to transitioning to a clean energy economy and is ready to do business in this space. The state’s clean energy businesses and utilities have already shown they are up to the challenge. Minnesota achieved its goal of reaching 25% renewable generation eight years ahead of schedule in 2017. Already, in 2021, 52% of power generation in Minnesota was from zero-carbon sources

The 100% clean energy bill will also make it more efficient to site, interconnect, and operate renewable energy facilities. Modernizing the permitting process is badly needed and will help make Minnesota a more attractive and business-friendly place to build projects.

white earth solar intern working

Is this bill realistic for Minnesota?

Yes, this bill is realistic for Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota utilities are already making significant strides toward clean energy. Every time Minnesota has set a goalpost for the state’s utilities to make more progress on clean energy targets, they demonstrate what they are capable of accomplishing and so much more.

Major utilities are already on their way to 100% clean energy and 57% of Minnesotans are served by one of these utilities.

  • Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, became the first in the country to commit to 100% clean electricity, planned for 2050.
  • Minnesota Power is planning to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050, 70% renewable energy by 2030, and an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035.
  • Great River Energy is planning to achieve an 80% greenhouse gas reduction goal by 2032 by using more than 50% renewable energy by 2027.
  • Rochester Public Utilities has committed to a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • The Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) has committed to a goal of being 80% carbon-free by 2030.

Further, the bill includes “off ramps” for utilities if they prove to state regulators that they cannot meet the bill’s benchmarks while maintaining affordable and reliable power. It also provides utilities the option of buying renewable energy credits, instead of buying or producing the energy directly to meet the standards. Maintaining affordable and reliable energy while pursuing a clean energy economy is a crucial part of this legislation.

Minnesota is not alone in enacting legislation of this kind. 51% of Americans live in a state that has committed to 100% clean electricity. Seventeen states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. have committed to 100% clean electricity, and 29 states, three U.S. territories, and Washington D.C. have all enacted renewable energy standards—dating back to 1983.

minnesota state capitol in daylight

What's next?

This bill is working its way through the legislative process. It has passed both the House and Senate Energy Committees and has passed in the Minnesota House. The bill will move to the Senate for passage. If it passes the Senate, the Governor is planning on signing it into law. Once signed, Minnesota will have succeeded in passing the largest piece of legislation around clean energy in the state’s history.

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