The 2015 legislative session was a disaster for those passionate about clean water, clean air, and renewable energy in greater Minnesota. While CURE focused on increasing both the renewable energy standard & the energy efficiency standard through the Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a complete repeal of the state’s renewable energy standard, a repeal of the state’s rooftop solar or net metering law and a repeal of the state’s energy efficiency standard. Under the influence of fossil fuel companies and electric utilities, many House members marched in formation with polluters hell-bent on protecting yesterday’s energy choices. House members ignored evidence that clean energy policies are working in Minnesota. The facts are clear. Since clean energy legislation passed in 2007, over 15,000 good paying jobs have been created in the state’s clean energy sector and electricity prices have not gone up due to the rules. Thankfully, many of the rollbacks of clean energy by House members did not make it into a joint House and Senate energy bill.During the final minutes of the legislative session, the Minnesota House and Senate came together to offer a joint bill for the Governor’s signature. The bill that both chambers eventually agreed on left out many of the regressive repeals featured in earlier bills from the House, but it did include an outright attack on rooftop solar and net metering laws. For decades Minnesota has been a national leader on net metering, passing the country’s first “net metering” policy in 1981. Net metering allows utility customers with small onsite renewable energy systems such as solar or wind to get paid for the energy they don’t use and funnel back into the energy grid. Legislation passed this year included limits and burdensome fees for customers of electric co-ops and municipal utilities who wish to invest in solar and wind. These rollbacks will make it harder for everyone in rural Minnesota to make the responsible investment in renewable energy.
On Saturday, May 23rd, Governor Dayton vetoed the joint energy and jobs bill citing the net metering rollbacks and other deficiencies. Dayton showed bold leadership in vetoing this bill and we should commend him for it. By his veto, he is standing up for farmers and self-reliant property owners who wish to receive the fair benefits of clean energy generation, and all of us receive the clean energy benefit.
Blog post by Kristian Nyberg, CURE’s Energy Program Coordinator. Graphics by the Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign.