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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House Advances Bipartisan Agreement on Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021

Saturday, May 15, 2021

St. Paul, MN- The Minnesota House of Representatives approved the House/Senate Conference Committee Report 88-46 to improve energy efficiency and cost savings opportunities across the state.

The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021 updates the conservation and improvement program (CIP) statutes providing utilities with flexibility to meet energy savings goals instead of conservation spending goals. The new focus on outcomes, instead of spending, will allow utilities to pursue more effective energy savings opportunities.

“I’m grateful for the bipartisan collaboration that resulted in restoring Minnesota’s leadership in energy conservation,” said. Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), chief House author of the bill.  “Utilities benefit from conservation by avoiding the cost of building new infrastructure, such as new power plants, transmission lines, natural gas lines and distribution systems as energy demands increase. Minnesotans deserve more choice and an opportunity to protect our planet from environmental damages that result from burning fossil fuels.”

Some of the changes to CIP under Rep. Stephenson’s proposal include allowing utilities to improve service by implementing efficient fuel switching and load management within CIP, establishing separate sections in statutes for investor-owned utilities (Xcel, Minnesota Power, Great River Energy, CenterPoint, and others) and customer-owned utilities (municipal and cooperative-owned) that better reflect their needs. The bill also expands opportunities for low-income households to benefit from energy-efficient improvements.

The legislation awaits Governor Walz’s signature.