When we ask Minnesotans about reducing pollution by using more renewable energy, the answer is always a resounding Yes! And it’s no wonder with all the benefits Minnesota receives from our growing clean energy sector. This year we are celebrating a landmark event that made our dramatic progress possible.
Ten years ago, in 2007, Conservation Minnesota worked with partners to pass bi-partisan legislation creating a Renewable Energy Standard. The bill, known as the Next Generation Energy Act and signed by Governor Pawlenty, required Minnesota utilities to produce 25% of their energy using renewable resources by the year 2025. It also advanced energy conservation, preferences for clean energy, and goals to reduce carbon pollution. The first of its kind in the Midwest, it made Minnesota a national clean energy leader.
In the ten years since its creation, the Next Generation Energy Act has been a huge success. Clean energy is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. It employs over 54,000 Minnesotans in well-paying jobs. As wind has become the least expensive energy to produce in Minnesota, our utilities report that using wind is saving business and residential customers money as well. New clean energy is powering community prosperity in greater Minnesota, while protecting our health and the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams.
With all of this success, the question now is how will Minnesota continue to lead? Now is our opportunity to update the Next Generation Energy Act with new, more ambitious goals that can create even more jobs. As technology improves and clean energy costs drop even further, it is exciting to see that receiving 50% of our electricity from renewables is clearly within reach.