MN House Signs For 100% Clean Energy by 2040

Percy Bartelt, staff writer

On Feb. 7, Governor Tim Walz signed into law the requirement that utilities companies move to carbon-free, clean energy sources by 2040. While the House of Representatives, which leans democratic, has fully agreed to the bill, the Republican Senate has yet to move things further up the political ladder, as the cost and reliability of the bill has been questioned.

CBS News reports that the bill aims to move utilities away from fossil fuels to wind and solar power, or even alternative energy like hydropower, biomass or hydrogen. Minnesota’s biggest source of utilities is through Xcel Energy, who stated that they fully support this bill’s decision but are also not sure how they’ll achieve their goal by 2040. The same has been said by smaller, rural utility companies. They’re not sure how to switch and they are worried that the cost of their customers will be higher than normal.

What aided this bill being signed was a large group of college students across Minnesota, all going to the polls this previous November election, as well as their strong activism on the topic of the climate crisis and working with their representatives. 

The Minnesota Reformer published a statement written by Lola Brown, a senior political science major from Macalester College, who has worked with various social political justice movements and other college students throughout the Twin Cities to advocate for the bill’s signing. 

Featured in the article was also Augsburg environmental studies student Zoe Barany. They helped Brown in writing the statement in the Reformer and getting students’ voices heard by state officials. The statement explains their goals as a group of college students and what they’re excited about with getting involved with their state government to make actual change.

“Our leaders have the chance to make Minnesota a 100% carbon-free energy state by 2040, expand access to public transit to reduce emissions, make our homes more energy efficient and cut our energy bills, and protect our air and water,” the statement reads.

Though the statement from the Minnesota Reformer was published six days prior to the bill being signed, it also briefly addresses the common worry about cost and reliability of the Clean Energy Bill. Brown explains, “Decarbonizing our homes enables us to make them more energy efficient, reduces our heating bills, and with state support can be available to all of us, regardless of our income or where we live.”

Minnesota has already come a long way in declining our carbon emissions. According to Kare 11, state regulators reported that from 2005 to 2020, Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 23%, and they aim to drop that number to 30% by 2025 and sequentially 80% by 2050. Not to mention that the biggest drop was in power generation, which fell 54% when users of coal switched to renewable energy.

For students interested in getting involved with environmental efforts, the Augsburg’s Environmental Action Committee will be meeting on Feb. 21 at 5:30pm in the Auggie’s Nest. To learn more about the student-led organization, visit their Instagram: @augsburg_eac