Minnesota Senate Republicans said they plan to introduce a “Clean Energy First” bill during the upcoming legislative session that will “prioritize clean energy” and “modernize Minnesota’s energy resources.”
According to the Associated Press, several different versions of the “Clean Energy First” legislation were introduced during the last session, but all were intended to change how the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) analyzed the long-term plans of utility companies.
Senate Republicans say their bill will require Minnesota utility companies to “prioritize carbon-free technology” and will direct the PUC to “consider whether utilities’ new energy projects are in the public interest.”
The legislation will include nuclear, solar, wind, hydropower, carbon sequestration, and municipal solid waste as clean energy sources.
“In the next two decades, most fossil fueled power plants will likely be retired and replaced – representing more than 40 percent of our current capacity. As we plan for our state’s future energy needs, we have the opportunity to do so in a way that prioritizes efficiency and carbon-free energy,” Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) (pictured above), chair of the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee, said in a statement.
“‘Clean Energy First’ addresses our long-term energy needs in an affordable and reliable way by allowing technology and the economy to drive innovation in the energy sector. Mandates only drive up cost; we need to keep that in perspective as it relates to the cost of energy in Minnesota for all energy consumers,” he added.
Osmek’s committee will host a pair of hearings in Rochester and Mound later this month to discuss the legislation. Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) introduced a version of the Clean Energy First bill last session and plans to partner with Osmek on a new version of the bill when the session begins in February.
“Our Clean Energy First proposal will help Minnesota accomplish the transition to clean energy through careful resource planning and coordination,” said Senjem. “An all-of-the-above approach to clean energy ensures a reliable grid. This is a reasonable approach that’s more flexible and less costly.”
Osmek opposed versions of the Clean Energy First bill last session, making it difficult for any of them to reach the governor’s desk. He said he feared the proposals would put “the thumb on the scale for renewables to the point where you’re going to create reliability issues on the grid.” The new Republican bill could represent a compromise between House Democrats and Senate Republicans on clean energy.
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