Minnesota’s Carbon Free Goal on a Fast Track

Minnesota has surpassed the goals it set more than a decade ago for renewable energy standards. But as the climate crisis grows larger, there’s a push to adopt new goals supporters say will benefit the state in multiple ways. The start of the legislative session saw Democratic leaders and clean-energy advocates revive calls for Minnesota to approve a plan for 100-percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. The House version passed out of committee this week, and a Senate panel will soon take it up. Michael Noble of the group Fresh Energy says given the strides the state has already made in transitioning to sources like wind and solar, meeting the revised goal should be achievable.

 Companies like Xcel Energy have carbon-free goals by 2050. But some on the utility side express concern about reaching a higher standard while trying to balance energy demands and costs. Supporters stress that relying on cleaner power sources will help control energy bills, because they’re cheaper to produce than coal-fired power. Beyond reducing emissions, backers are convinced this approach would lead to more jobs and innovation in Minnesota.

Gregg Mast with the group Clean Energy Economy Minnesota says the plan provides flexibility by offering utilities “offramps” if they convey the need to reassess their contributions. He says that should put customers at ease about trying to achieve the 2040 goal while navigating volatile energy markets.

And Noble says Minnesota doesn’t want to lose ground in the global transition to clean energy.


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