Labor, Business Leaders Tout First of Several Industrial Energy Efficiency Recommendations
ST. PAUL (June 26, 2014) – A provision in the supplemental budget bill passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton will allow the Minnesota Department of Commerce to work with manufacturers, health care facilities, and other businesses to help fund energy efficiency projects with low-interest financing through its state revenue bond authority. The $100 million in state revenue bonds can be used to finance community energy efficiency projects, including industrial, commercial and public projects, to save energy. State Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL – Chisholm) and State Reps. Melissa Hortman (DFL – Brooklyn Park) and Jason Metsa (DFL – Virginia) authored and championed the measure.
Increasing energy efficiency for large users of energy in the state will create and maintain family-supporting jobs for workers in manufacturing, constructing and maintenance of needed materials and equipment. Providing opportunities for Minnesota’s manufacturing and large industrial sector to be more energy efficient is also vital to ensuring our companies can compete in the global marketplace. In 2006, 32 percent of total energy used in Minnesota was used by industry, more than any other sector.
“This provision was a great first step, and we urge the legislature and Governor Dayton to continue to focus on putting forward changes like these that will create and sustain jobs in our state—and protect our environment—by making our industries more energy efficient,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Local manufacturers, health care facilities and other businesses can benefit, and the communities around them will benefit both economically and environmentally.”
In addition, the BlueGreen Alliance offered further recommendations in its Competing to Win: Spurring Industrial Energy Efficiency in Minnesota policy statement derived from input from stakeholders, including some of the largest corporations in the state, economic development agencies, unions, environmental organizations, and other interested parties. Meetings were held both in the metro area and Greater Minnesota. The recommendations could be acted on both legislatively and through executive actions and will further spur industrial energy efficiency in the state.
“These recommendations will help make it easier for Minnesota companies to reduce their energy use and improve their bottom lines,” said Bob Carpenter, General Manager, St. Paul Operations for RockTenn. “Companies today are competing domestically and globally. That means we have to be as lean as possible to stay on top.”
The recommendations include the creation of a statewide energy-efficiency initiative to help provide technical assistance and access to a revolving loan program to finance improvements to taconite mines, pulp and paper mills, food manufacturers, and other energy-intensive businesses; allowing a utility or other third party to own the energy efficiency equipment until the company pays it off—helping to keep large energy efficiency initiatives from showing up in a detrimental way on a balance sheet, instead of spreading it out; and supporting Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Waste Heat Reduction (WHR) and Waste Heat to Power (WHP) initiatives in the state.
“Tools like these are vital in our work to grow business, jobs and tax base in the East Metro area,” said Louie Jambois, president Saint Paul Port Authority. “Increasingly, businesses are striving to be more efficient to remain competitive and we support this effort to ensure there is access to capital to make that happen.”
“Making our industrial base more energy efficient will preserve good jobs for workers around the state, while reducing overall emissions,” said Pete Parris, Political Director for Sheet Metal Workers Local 10, which has members in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and counties in Northern Wisconsin. “Union members are concerned about climate change and our environment. We worry about our how our communities will be impacted. This is a positive step forward to reduce emissions.”
Businesses or entities interested in this program can contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce or visit http://mn.gov/commerce/.