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Energy policy changes (new law)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Supporters of clean energy continued their winning streak at the Capitol on May 12, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed off on a package of energy policy reforms.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), the new law contains provisions designed to boost renewable energy development and help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. Unless otherwise noted, it takes effect Aug. 1, 2008.

At the core of the law is a set of policy initiatives aimed at addressing global warming. One provision requires 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. Also, the PCA and Commerce Department are required to report to the Legislature regularly on progress being made in meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and make policy recommendations to that end.

Some other changes made by the law include:

• effective May 13, 2008, the Commerce Department may serve as a clearinghouse for wind energy projects by aggregating wind turbine purchases into bulk orders for individuals, community-based energy developers and various other public entities;

• certain solar energy projects may be incorporated into the state’s conservation improvement program;

• effective Jan. 3, 2009, the Legislative Electric Energy Task Force is abolished and reorganized as the Legislative Energy Commission, with its purview expanded to include not only electric generation but also all other energy-related issues;

• any outdoor lighting fixtures installed or replaced with state funds must use special “cutoff luminaires” that conserve energy and minimize light pollution; and

• up to $250 per residence may be reimbursed from the state’s petroleum tank release cleanup fund to homeowners to replace PVC piping in home heating oil systems with metal piping.

The new law also includes a pair of non-energy related provisions: a study on the potential costs and benefits of statewide video franchising and a statewide broadband service mapping project, both of which are effective May 13, 2008.


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