The clean energy bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature with the support of Gov. Tim Walz has us imagining what a carbon-free energy Minnesota will be like in 2040. That's a positive thought that doesn't come easily in today's world.

While many of us may not be around to see it, our children and grandchildren will, and finally, we can say we're doing something for their future instead of leaving them a planet on fire.

The legislation, whose chief Senate author was Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, stands as one of the most consequential efforts ever to preserve and protect Minnesota's pristine air, lakes and woods.

But equally important, it has widespread support among those most responsible for bringing carbon-free energy about — consumers, businesses and utilities. It's also reasonable for those businesses who will bear the burden of meeting the standards, investing in infrastructure and taking risks with new technology.

They're an important player in this necessary and noble effort and deserve credit. The legislation doesn't mandate how utility companies get to their goals, and, as Frentz said, those decisions are best left to the boardrooms.

The legislation calls for energy to be carbon-free a decade earlier than the biggest utilities in Minnesota had planned. Utilities would have to be 80% carbon-free by 2030, 90% carbon-free and 55% renewable by 2035 and 100% carbon-free by 2040.

There are exceptions. Utilities can petition the Public Utilities Commission to get a waiver for meeting their goals if costs are unreasonably high to ratepayers or the energy is not reliable. And because rural cooperatives have a starting point behind bigger utilities, they only have to reach 60% carbon-free by 2030. They still have to meet the 2040 carbon-free deadline.

The legislation also offers options for utilities that can't meet the standards. They can buy carbon credits from others that reduce carbon beyond their standards so in the end overall carbon is reduced. It's a market-driven system in that sense.

And there's good evidence the goals can be achieved. Minnesota's greenhouse gases declined 23% from 2005 to 2020, according to a recent report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. That's on pace to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% by 2025, the goal the Legislature set in 2007.

Climate change is evident in Minnesota. Lakes have lost two weeks of ice cover in the last 50 years, while extreme weather has become more frequent, alternating between floods and drought.

The new green energy industries will bring hundreds of jobs to Minnesota and lower energy costs that utilities say have come down about $1 billion from 2017 to 2021 from wind energy alone.

While Republicans opposed the plan that passed by a party-line one vote in the Senate, we should remember the first clean energy and air legislation was passed on a bipartisan vote in 2007 when GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in office.

Reducing greenhouse gases and other significant costs of climate change will serve every Minnesotan and make sure we leave this beautiful state for our children to enjoy as much as we did.