While clean energy activists in many other parts of the country are working to protect current renewable energy policies, Minnesota today has a new law that will spur growth in the state’s solar sector and will create good jobs for workers. Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a solar energy standard of 1.5 percent by 2020 for investor-owned utilities, with a goal of 10 percent solar energy by 2030. The standard was part of a larger omnibus energy bill that passed the Minnesota State House and Senate last week.
In states like North Carolina, Ohio, and Kansas, there have been legislative attempts to reduce or eliminate their clean energy policies driving growth. The best defense against them has been that, in each of those states, those policies have created good jobs for workers. These attempts have been clearly driven by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council — a group funded by billionaires looking out for their own profits at the expense of clean air and good wages and benefits for workers.
Thankfully, most of these attacks have been fended off for the moment. But, ALEC and their ilk have succeeded in their goal of preventing further progress on clean energy by putting activists and clean energy supporters on the defensive. Instead of focusing on where to go next, many state legislatures are instead deliberating going backwards.
That’s why it’s such good news to see what Minnesota has been able to do. Leaders in the legislature and Governor Mark Dayton have moved the ball forward on solar energy in the state. It is a first step toward more bold measures — like making the Minnesota Renewable Electricity Standard stronger and reducing red tape standing in the way of getting clean energy projects off the ground.
We can have a cleaner energy future if we keep working to push our local, state and federal government to be bold. California, Minnesota, Vermont and many other states have been leading the way. Now, it’s time for the federal government to act to ensure we reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change, creates good jobs for workers in every part of the country, and leaves a strong environment and a prosperous economy for future generations of Americans to build upon.