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Promoting a greener economy (new law)

Published (5/30/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Energy-efficient government buildings and a greener economy for Minnesota are the goals of a new law.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Kalin (DFL-North Branch) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), the law comprises a package of reforms designed to promote cleaner energy.

Of particular focus is the idea of a “green economy,” which is defined as one that increases the use of renewable energy, encourages energy conservation, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and protects the environment.

The law establishes several initiatives, effective the day following final enactment, including:

• requiring the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Job Skills Partnership Board to promote job training that supports green economic development;

• creating a microenergy loan program to finance small-scale renewable energy projects for individuals, businesses and communities;

• requiring all state agencies that administer loan or grant programs to evaluate their ability to promote green economic development and report their findings to the Commerce Department for future consideration; and

• creating a “Green Jobs Task Force” to advise the governor on how to promote a green economy.

Effective Aug. 1, 2008, a financing program will be created to help state and local governments improve energy efficiency in public buildings and facilities.

The state-level energy efficiency program will be run through the Department of Administration, while at the local-level it is to be administered by the Commerce Department. Each agency must report back to the Legislature by Jan. 15 of every year on the success of their respective programs.

Under the microenergy loan program, the Commerce Department can issue long-term, low-interest loans to local governments and small businesses, and can participate in Housing Finance Agency loans to property owners, private developers and nonprofit groups. A microenergy loan account consisting of proceeds from revenue bonds and various other sources is established for these purposes in the state treasury.

The Green Jobs Task Force, comprising six lawmakers, 10 gubernatorial appointees and eight legislative appointees representing various agencies and interests, will draft a statewide action plan to “optimize the growth of the green economy.” A report is due to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2009.


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