Minnesota’s legislative session will impact everyone in the state who uses electricity

Courtesy: Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA)

The 2023 legislative session, which began in January and concluded May 22, was one of the most consequential in history for Minnesota’s 1.7 million cooperative members.

Record investments, key policy changes, and a landmark 100% carbon-free by 2040 mandate all made this legislative session one with big long-term impacts on everyone using electricity in the state.

The Minnesota Rural Electric Association represents Minnesota’s 44 distribution cooperatives and six generation and transmission cooperatives, who collectively serve over 1.7 million Minnesotans. They are the voice for non-profit electric cooperative member-owners at the Capitol and have been deeply engaged with lawmakers, so Minnesota cooperative-member owners have their voice heard. They work tirelessly to shape the session’s outcomes. Here is an overview of a few items affecting electric cooperative members.

100% Carbon-Free by 2040

The first and most impactful bill for electric cooperatives and their member-owners was the historic 100% carbon-free by 2040 bill, which was signed into law in early February.

The legislation, passed in record time, is widely regarded as the most significant energy policy ever passed in Minnesota and mandates all electricity sold in the state come from carbon-free sources by the year 2040. The law will increase the challenge of keeping the electric grid reliable under all conditions; significant advancements in technology will be needed to achieve the mandate.

Minnesota’s electric cooperatives are leaders in navigating the clean energy transition while keeping electricity reliable and affordable. However, this new law does present significant challenges. As a result, MREA worked with lawmakers to add some common-sense amendments to help protect affordability and reliability. Nonetheless, a lot of investment, innovation, and ingenuity will be necessary to avoid cost increases and potential service disruptions, while meeting the mandate.

State Competitiveness Fund

Investments in Minnesota’s electric grid are more crucial than ever, and historic funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) necessitates Minnesota think big to attract federal dollars.

As a result, lawmakers put $190 million into a newly created State Competitiveness Fund, which will be used to attract hundreds of millions of dollars for investments in Minnesota’s energy infrastructure. Cooperatives across the state will be using these funds, including an additional $5.3 million specifically for consumer-owned utilities, for projects to improve affordability and reliability, and aid in the energy transition.

Electrification Rebates and Grants

The state of Minnesota wants to help you buy an electric vehicle. This includes a rebate up to $2,500 for a new electric vehicle with a sale price below $55,000 or up to $600 for a used vehicle under $25,000. The rebate is open to individuals, businesses, nonprofits and governments; those who have already received an EV rebate or tax credit from Minnesota are not eligible.

Those who would like to purchase a high efficient heat pump to heat and cool their home could receive rebates of up to $4,000. The legislature also made grant money available for solar on schools, electric bikes, electric school buses, pre-weatherization work and more.