Minnesota's renewable energy standard would jump to 50 percent by 2030 under legislation announced Monday by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, though it will likely face a stiff challenge in the Legislature.
The state's current renewable energy standard — created in 2007 — calls for 25 percent of Minnesota's electricity to be produced from renewable resources by 2025. Currently, more than 21 percent of electric power comes from such sources as wind and solar.
The bills would raise that percentage to 50 percent by 2030.
"If we redouble our efforts, and raise Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard to 50 percent by 2030, we will improve air quality, continue to drive down the cost of renewable energy, and generate thousands of new energy jobs," Smith said in a statement.
The bills have bipartisan support, she noted. Legislation to increase the renewable energy standard is being authored in the Senate by Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, and Karin Housley, R-South St. Paul; and in the House by Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, and Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne.
But there is also "bipartisan opposition," said Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington and chairman of the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committee. "There is bipartisan opposition to increasing mandates in both the Senate and the House." Energy policy is moving to "outcome-based" alternatives, he said. "We want lower costs, reduced emissions and more jobs. How we get that, we're agnostic to it."
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy did not take a position on the legislation. But the company — the nation's leading wind energy provider — said on Monday it plans to double renewable energy in its Minnesota system and reduce carbon emissions by more than 60 percent.
From 2005 to 2015, Minnesota's electric power generated from renewable resources more than tripled, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The department said last March that the state is well on pace to meet the renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025.