Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO)
The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO) was signed into law in May of 2021; it is an update to Minnesota’s oldest and most successful energy policy to date — the Conservation Improvement Program or CIP.
Currently, the CIP program has provided more than $6 billion in savings to Minnesota taxpayers by implementing a suite of efficiency measures (like LED lighting, and more efficient heating and cooling systems) to homes and businesses. ECO will allow utilities to offer a broader suite of programs to their customers.
ECO will also allow for fuel switching and electrification (like switching from a natural gas heating system to an all-electric source) to co-exist with and complement traditional energy efficiency. Utilities can help their customers save energy, while using increasingly more efficient and cleaner technologies.
Finally, an added benefit to this smart policy direction is job creation. This legislation will provide new energy efficient options to businesses and residential customers, while also driving local job growth through technological innovation and the development of new utility programs.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) celebrates the signing of the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act into Minnesota law today. Years in the making, the ECO Act was formally introduced two years ago, and since its proposal CEEM has worked with our member organizations to raise the business voice of clean energy […]
CEEM’s 2021 goal was to defend existing solar programs and accelerate the growth of Minnesota’s solar industry. We worked to strengthen and modernize Minnesota’s nation-leading Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program — which was passed in 2013. The CSG program needs updates to recognize the growing pains and market changes from the past eight years. A main area of focus was removing arbitrary red tape slowing the program down, like the contiguous county provision. As a reminder, the contiguous county provision is stated in law that all subscribers to a community solar garden must reside within the same county as the garden, or a contiguous county. Removing the contiguous county restriction will open up an industry-estimated 300 megawatts of untapped solar potential – leading to 12,000 new CSG construction jobs over the next 6-24 months.
No community solar changes were included in any final legislation during the 2021 session.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, communities in Greater Minnesota were facing uncertain futures. Now, nearly six months into a peacetime emergency that was first declared by Governor Tim Walz on March 13, 2020, the impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated the economic development challenges Greater Minnesota has faced for years. Farm incomes are at historic lows, local government revenues are down, and thousands of jobs have been lost.
Building performance standards
Residential and commercial buildings account for roughly 40% of the energy use and emissions in the United States.
As more cities and states take steps to lower their energy usage, evidence suggests that policies on building energy usage are helping nudge energy consumption lower.
In Minnesota, Governor Walz tasked a bipartisan group of legislators with examining Minnesota’s building codes and how we could strengthen them to reduce energy usage.
CEEM will continue to support discussions on the use of enhanced building performance standards to reduce energy waste and GHG emissions from Minnesota’s buildings.
Building electrification is a fancy way of describing the switch from natural gas to electric to save consumers money and reduce carbon emissions. Many existing homes use both electric and gas appliances today, so the goal is to build new homes with all-electric appliances and to switch existing gas appliances (like water heaters and stoves) to electric.
Learn more about our policy work
We work between the aisle with policymakers to advance energy efficiency and clean energy innovation that diversifies and strengthens Minnesota’s economy.
CEEM works with Minnesota and Midwest regulatory bodies to ensure that clean energy policy is enacted in the best way for our member businesses and all Minnesotans.