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Energy omnibus bill passed

Published (4/25/2008)
By Nick Busse
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The House passed an omnibus energy policy bill April 23 with provisions designed to boost solar and wind power and tighten greenhouse gas regulations.

HF3661/SF3337*, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), was approved 109-22. The Senate did not concur with the House amendments, and a conference committee has been requested. The Senate passed its version 52-14 on April 3.

The bill contains policy initiatives incorporated from other bills, including:

• requiring producers and purchasers of industrial and commercial gasses with a high “global warming potential” to report data on their sales and use in the state to the Pollution Control Agency;

• requiring the PCA and Commerce Department to report to the Legislature regularly on progress being made in meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals;

• authorizing the Commerce Department to coordinate and arrange bulk purchases of wind turbines and related equipment for individuals, community-based energy developers and public entities;

• requiring that one-eighth of 1 percent of the state’s 25-percent-by-2025 renewable energy standard be generated by solar-electric power; and

• exempting wind and solar projects from having to obtain a certificate of need if the Public Utilities Commission deems them a “reasonable and prudent approach” to implementing the renewable energy standard.

Hilty amended the bill to remove a controversial provision that would have banned the sale of small containers of automotive air conditioner refrigerant.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) offered an amendment that would have lifted the moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants in the state. It was defeated 52-79. Hilty, who chairs the House Energy Finance and Policy Division, promised Hackbarth and other nuclear power supporters that his division would be holding hearings on the issue in the near future.

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