Minnesota Proves Its Readiness for Carbon-Free Electricity

February 16, 2023 | 10:00 am
photo of the Minnesota State Capitol building, with trees and grass below and blue sky aboveMulad/Wikimedia Commons
James Gignac
Midwest Senior Policy Manager

Last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a standard that will make the North Star State’s electricity 100 percent carbon-free by 2040. Following the Minnesota Senate’s approval on February 2 and the House on January 26, the state now has a much-needed update to its clean energy policies that advocates and other leaders have sought for several years. Congratulations, Minnesota!

Thank you to Representative Jamie Long, Senator Nick Frentz, and Governor Walz for their leadership in ensuring Minnesota joins the growing list of states enacting 100 percent electricity standards. Thank you to the 100% Campaign for its amazing work, and to Fresh Energy and numerous other Minnesota organizations that helped shape the legislative language, build consensus, and move the policy forward.

Here at UCS, we owe our gratitude to Meghan Hassett and Kim Scott, as well as several other Climate and Energy Program staff members who contributed research, analysis, communications support, and outreach efforts over the years. Additional thanks go to UCS supporters—in January alone they sent close to 400 messages to legislators urging enactment of the new standard.

As we pointed out in our legislative testimony, bold policies such as Minnesota’s new 100 percent carbon-free electricity standard are not only achievable but also produce tremendous health and economic benefits for states. In 2022, UCS, COPAL, and our other project partners published the report On the Road to 100 Percent Renewables, along with a state-specific fact sheet outlining how Minnesota could meet its electricity needs completely and equitably with renewable energy by 2035, while dramatically reducing fossil fuel use in vehicles and buildings.

What’s next?

Minnesota’s legislative session runs until late May. Building on the success of the 100 percent standard, there are many other energy- and environment-related bills ready for discussion and approval. Two key measures to highlight include legislation to expand cumulative impact assessments in Minnesota and establishment of a state clean energy financing initiative (also known as a “green bank”).

Stay tuned for more updates as Minnesota and its climate and clean energy champions move closer to a healthier, equitable energy future for the state and its residents.

About the author

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James Gignac is Midwest Senior Policy Manager for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Prior to joining UCS, Mr. Gignac served as environmental and energy counsel and as assistant attorney general to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, where he worked on a variety of regulatory, legislative, and litigation matters involving clean energy, climate change, and environmental protection.