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Energy Efficiency Bill Begins to Move

After several weeks focused exclusively on COVID-19 legislation and policies to keep legislators and legislative staff safe during the pandemic, the state legislature is starting to begin work on some of their pre-pandemic priorities. A bipartisan energy efficiency bill known as ECO or the Energy Conservation & Optimization Act of 2020 (SF 4409 / HF 4502) is one of these priorities.

Today both the house and the senate energy committees will be hearing this clean energy bill and we’re hopeful both committees will vote in favor of the bill and move it to the floor.

Below is the letter I sent the Chair Osmek and the Senate Energy & Utilities Finance & Policy Committee on behalf of Conservation Minnesota and our members. A similar letter was also sent to Chair Wagenius and the House Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Committee.

April 23, 2020

To Chair Osmek and the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee,

Thank you for your leadership during this time of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives across every county in Minnesota. The efforts of the Minnesota Senate to protect our health and families, support our livelihoods, and preserve our way of life has made us thankful to call Minnesota home. Thank you again.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to write in support of SF4409, the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2020 (ECO). In our communications with Conservation Minnesota members across the state, we find that citizens strongly support policies that help solve the challenges of climate change without turning their daily lives upside down. ECO hits this mark.

ECO was built with a remarkable coalition of utilities both large and small, organized labor, energy businesses, and clean energy advocates. The successful implementation of the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) has demonstrated that improved energy efficiency and adoption of smarter energy technologies can be a significant force to reduce carbon emissions. When it comes to energy efficiency, some of the cleanest energy “available” is the energy that we do not use.

ECO will build upon the success of CIP and allow efficient fuel switching that will help Minnesotans capture the benefits of new technology while reducing overall carbon emissions. As technology improves, the effectiveness of ECO will continue to ratchet up and allow Minnesotans to get deeper carbon emissions reductions.

ECO also will allow utilities to help more low-income Minnesotans benefit from increased weatherization assistance and other programs that ease the burdensome costs of turning the lights on or staying warm in the winter.

At Conservation Minnesota, we support policies across broad sectors that will result in decreased carbon emissions while being sensitive to the daily routines of Minnesotans. ECO is one important piece in this broader goal, and we are grateful for the opportunity to express our support of SF 4409.

Thank you,

Nels Paulsen
Policy Director