May 2024 Legislative Newsletter

May 24, 2024

 




May Legislative Update

Big Picture

  • Legislative Session: The legislative session adjourned on May 20 after a lengthy weekend on the House and Senate floors to pass bills before the midnight deadline. They are now on their way to Governor Walz’s desk for his signature.

  • Looking ahead: The entire Minnesota House of Representatives will be up for election this November, and at least one special election is expected to take place before the legislature returns in January 2025.

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Which CEEM priorities passed?

CEEM’s top four priorities in 2024

Smart implementation: Launch of the Minnesota Energy Alley statewide initiative — a partnership between CEEM, Grid Catalyst and the State of Minnesota.

Permitting reform: Passage of the Minnesota Energy Infrastructure Permitting Act.

Expanding transmission: Passage of legislation allowing the colocation of utility infrastructure in existing corridors to expand transmission infrastructure. Grid Enhancing Technology (GETs) must be explored by utilities as a tool to maximize existing and newly built transmission.

Interconnection: Reform addressing long-standing interconnection delays and grid upgrade prices to projects passed.

Review the full list of CEEM’s 2024 priorities here.

Digging deeper

Permitting reform: The Minnesota Energy Infrastructure Permitting Act was included in the Agricultural, Energy, and Housing Omnibus Bill. CEEM worked on this bill from the formation of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) workgroup through the cultivation of recommendations and, finally, with our Director of Government Affairs testifying on the first day of the Conference Committee.

These reforms are expected to shave 9-18 months off the total permitting time for transmission and large power generation facilities without sacrificing valuable public input and scrutiny.

 

George Damian, CEEM Director of Government Affairs, testifying before the Energy, Commerce & Agriculture Omnibus Bill Conference Committee in support of SF4942.

NextGen Highways: The NextGen Highways language allows for co-locating utility infrastructure in existing interstate corridors to accelerate grid expansion. Included in the Transportation, Housing, and Labor Budget Omnibus Bill.

Distributed generation: An interconnection bill proposing the Minnesota PUC establish a cost-sharing model for distribution grid upgrades and establishing an Interconnection ombudsperson at the PUC to help with disputes was passed in the Agriculture, Energy, and Commerce Omnibus Bill.

  • Additionally, the SolarAPP+ language and $1.5M appropriation from the Renewable Development Account (RDA) was included. SolarAPP+ will help to streamline the approval system and issue permits for residential solar energy and storage systems.

Geothermal energy:

  • Sabathani: The Sabathani Community Center Energy Project in Minneapolis received $6M from the RDA to support the additional installation of a district energy geothermal heat pump system. This was included in the Ag, Energy, Commerce omnibus package.
  • Feasibility Study: The provision to establish a grant program for local governments to assess the feasibility of installing geothermal energy systems to assist Xcel-territory cities with a population of under 30,000 was included in the Ag, Energy, Commerce omnibus package. The component consists of a $1.2M appropriation from the RDA for Fiscal Year 2025.
  • Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage: The language to change the permit requirement for groundwater thermal exchange devices was passed in the Health omnibus bill. This change will further help the development of Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage technology.
  • Other: A few more notable geothermal provisions included in the omnibus were the establishment of the Thermal Energy Network Pilot with a required report receiving an appropriation of $500K from the General Fund and the Thermal Energy Workgroup establishment with a report required.

Other clean energy provisions:

  • C-PACE updates: Reforms to update the C-PACE financing program will bring Minnesota in line with national trends while reducing barriers for property owners looking to improve commercial building sustainability through attractive financing and increased flexibility. The language was included in the Ag, Energy, Commerce Omnibus Bill.
  • Wastewater to waste heat: Language to encourage practices that enable recovery and use of waste heat from wastewater treatment operations was included and passed in the Environment Omnibus Bill.
  • Anaerobic digestion with organic food waste: The Ag, Energy, Commerce Omnibus Bill includes a $5M appropriation from the RDA for the Anaerobic Digester (AD) Energy System in Shakopee. The AD system will help Ramsey and Washington County process their organic food waste into renewable natural gas (RNG).
  • Solar*Rewards: The omnibus bill includes a $5M appropriation to be withheld each calendar year from the RDA for ten years starting in 2026. This appropriation will help to ensure the longevity of the Solar*Rewards program.
  • Energy efficiency: Language to update the Minnesota Energy Conservation and Optimization Act to streamline implementation and other policy changes were included in the Agriculture, Energy, and Commerce Omnibus Bill. The changes will allow energy consumers more ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

What’s next on the legislative horizon?

This session was focused heavily on policy since it was not a budget year, and there was not a large surplus to spend. The next session will be a budget year with a new legislature. We expect many of the same issues to be at the top of mind, including:

  • increased load demand from data centers
  • electrification and reshoring of heavy industry
  • energy storage policy and incentives for adoption
  • a continued discussion around replacing baseload power
  • discussions on nuclear energy
  • the key role critical minerals and their extraction will play moving forward

What’s next for CEEM’s policy efforts?

Rest: The policy team will be taking much-needed time away from work. When we return, look for notes about opportunities to connect with lawmakers on tours, site visits and more.

Webinar to be announced: Similar to last year, CEEM will hold a members-only webinar recapping the legislative session. Stay tuned for details.

Candidate education: The policy team will be spending the summer doing extensive candidate education on clean energy policies. If there is a candidate in your business’s district that you’d like to meet with, please let George Damian know.

2025 Legislative Priorities: The policy team will contact CEEM members later this year to determine priorities for the 2025 session.

Legislator tours: If you are interested in hosting legislators at one of your developed projects, please reach out to George Damian.

Program updates

IIJA & IRA Funding Opportunity Tracker: The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget recently released an Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Funding Opportunity Tracker. The Tracker provides an overview of competitive funding opportunities available through the IIJA and IRA.

Incentives for installation of on-site energy storage systems: The Minnesota Department of Commerce have concluded their stakeholder engagement report and developed a program structure for the two energy storage grant and incentive programs. The Xcel version of the Storage Program will launch on August 1.

Federal Legislative updates

FERC transmission ruling: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an important ruling in May. Order No. 1920 marks the first time in more than a decade that FERC has addressed regional transmission policy and the first time the Commission has ever squarely addressed the need for long-term transmission planning, which is critical for the nation’s transition to clean energy. Learn more.

Farm Bill: Congress continues to hammer out final policy details in the 2024 Farm Bill. The House has proposed a $1.5 trillion legislative package, which will enter bill markup in the House Agriculture Committee next week. There is a competing proposal to the 2024 Farm Bill in the Senate. The House and Senate must work through their differences to pass a 2024 Farm Bill this year.

Tariffs: The Biden Administration has raised new tariffs on products such as EVs, advanced batteries, solar cells and other materials sourced from China. The tariffs are phased over the next three years.

Catch up quick

The end of session ended with more than the usual amount of chaos, but CEEM’s work throughout the session paid off, as the vast majority of the issues we worked on were included in various omnibus bills. The biggest win — the passage of permitting reform — will help speed the build-out of needed transmission and smooth the path for a quicker build-out of clean energy projects, making it more achievable for Minnesota to reach 100% clean energy by 2040.

Intern insights with Mayande Mamba

As my time at CEEM comes to an end, the experience has left me with a concrete set of skills that will continue to communicate into my career path. I have been able to learn so much about clean energy and technology. One of the many highlights of my internship was conducting extensive research and writing a blog on state policy incentives to advance the implementation and adoption of medium- to heavy-duty electric vehicles. I got the opportunity to interview experts and conduct research on some of the challenges and incentives surrounding medium- to heavy-duty electric vehicles. This experience has allowed me to develop good research skills that can be communicated into other areas of my professional career.

Overall, my passion for clean energy has continued to grow through my internship experience at CEEM. From the energy tours of District Energy St. Paul or the Science Museum of Minnesota, I have been able to gain a better understanding of powerful energy systems helping to decarbonize the state. Being a policy intern at CEEM has put me in a great position to grow in the field, and I am excited to continue pursuing my interest in sustainability. Read more about my experience.

Event reminders

From tribal communities to new pathways for emerging farmers — join an engaging conversation about how clean energy technology is bringing about positive change to Minnesota communities.

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Join us for an in-depth conversation centered on The War Below, a new book that reveals the tensions among industry, conservationists, community groups, and policymakers over the need to source massive quantities of the minerals to power a greener future while still protecting our most sacred natural spaces.

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Join us at Nokomis Energy on June 18 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. as we debrief the 2024 Minnesota Legislative session and unwind with drinks, apps and networking!

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Why am I getting this email? We have decided to combine our monthly newsletter and our legislative newsletter. That means there will be one email monthly when the legislature is not in legislative session and two each month when Minnesota has its session.

Email: gdamian@cleanenergyeconomymn.org
Phone: 612.472.1233

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