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Walz Signs Landmark Bipartisan Energy Legislation
Minnesota Ag Connection - 05/27/2021

Governor Tim Walz has signed the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021 (ECO Act) into law. The legislation will strengthen Minnesota's energy conservation programs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs across the state.

"I am proud to sign this important energy legislation into Minnesota law," said Governor Walz. "We know that investing in energy conservation and beneficial fuel switching means that Minnesota's homes and businesses run more efficiently and have a lower impact on our environment. The ECO Act will help Minnesota families and small businesses save money, create good-paying jobs, and, most importantly, protect Minnesota's environment for generations to come. I would like to thank Representative Stephenson and Senator Rarick on the leadership and hard work on this bill."

"Minnesota is a leader in energy policy, and the ECO Act is proof," said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. "This nation-leading energy conservation legislation will boost our economy and protect our climate. The bill expands our commitment to low-income consumers, helping to ensure that all Minnesotans benefit from our state's energy policies."

"The ECO Act represents bipartisan work and the culmination of three years of intense work with many stakeholders from across the state, including big and small utility companies, clean energy and consumer advocates, and trade unions," said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold. "We know from Commerce's experience administering the Conservation Improvement Program that conservation has saved $6 billion in net benefits. In one year, CIP reduced 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to emissions of 350,000 vehicles. ECO will deliver even more dollars in savings for Minnesotans."

The ECO Act updates and expands Minnesota's Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). CIP helps Minnesota households and businesses use electricity and natural gas more efficiently conserving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and lessening the need for new utility infrastructure. The changes to CIP include expanding eligibility for low-income households, requiring energy efficiency improvements for public schools in utility plans, increasing conservation goals for investor-owned utilities, and providing additional flexibility for cooperatives in meeting their conversation requirements and reducing paperwork requirements.

"The Members of IBEW Local 292 are very happy to see the ECO bill pass. Thank you, Senator Rarick, Representative Stephenson, and Governor Walz for working so hard to come together to see this get passed," said Andy Snope of IBEW Local 292. "Energy Optimization and Efficiency is work that IBEW Local 292 members perform. Our Members and the Contractors we work for specialize in energy efficiency and conservation, from HVAC and lighting automation, load management and energy efficiency retrofits. We are optimistic that the incentives and goals laid out in this legislation will help to provide for investment in energy efficiency and conservation, while also helping to create jobs in the electrical industry."

"Conservation programs help people get really meaningful, permanent savings on their energy bills. The ECO Act will help bring energy conservation programs up to date so they remain meaningful in the years to come," said Annie Levenson-Falk, Executive Director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota.

"ECO increases the ability for Minnesotans to choose how, when, and how efficiently they use increasingly clean fuels like electricity -- reducing their energy costs, allowing more renewables onto the grid, avoiding harmful air emissions and supporting local jobs that can't be outsourced," said Mike Bull of the Center for Energy and Environment. "We're always looking for win-win policy solutions. ECO is win-win-win-win!"

"Cooperatives were leaders in getting the work underway to reform the state's energy efficiency programs. After years of effort and broadening the partnerships and collaboration, we are pleased to see ECO being passed and signed. We believe it ushers in a new era in the state's energy efficiency programs with important meaningful reforms, including finally allowing for a focus on reducing total energy use, along with saving consumers money and expanding innovative options," said Darrick Moe, President and CEO of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. "We appreciate the work of the Walz Administration, along with so many other key stakeholders, as well as the bipartisan leadership from Senator Rarick and Representative Stephenson, in finding common ground and developing policy reform that moves the state forward."

"The ECO Act is a landmark bill that provides more options for Minnesotans to benefit from clean, efficient, and affordable energy solutions. Reducing energy waste is a common-sense approach to saving money while supporting local jobs and lowering emissions. We thank Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan for their leadership and the efforts of policymakers in getting this important piece of bipartisan legislation across the finish line this session," said Gregg Mast, Executive Director of Clean Energy Economy MN.

"The Conservation Improvement Program has been saving Minnesotans money on their utility bills for nearly 40 years and we're pleased its legacy will continue," said Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy. "This bill is a powerful model for how stakeholders and legislators can collaborate on policy that will benefit all Minnesotans and help the state meet decarbonization goals in an equitable way."


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