Climate Finance | March 1, 2017

Blowing through renewable portfolio standards, ahead of schedule

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Renewable energy has bipartisan support, at least at the U.S. state level.

Take Minnesota. A decade ago, a nearly-unanimous legislature and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty set a goal to move Minnesota to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Eight years before the deadline, Minnesota has passed the 20 percent mark in wind and other renewable energy.

Democrats and Republicans have now introduced a bill to double Minnesota’s renewable energy commitments to 50 percent renewables by 2030.

One reason for the political support: jobs. Renewable energy industry supports 15,000 jobs and contributes more than $1 billion to Minnesota’s economy every year. Between 2000 and 2014, clean energy jobs in Minnesota grew 78 percent, compared to total state employment growth of 11 percent. The new goal, if passed, “will improve air quality, continue to drive down the cost of renewable energy, and generate thousands of new energy jobs,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith.

Nationwide, 29 states and the District of Columbia have some form of utility portfolio standards mandating increased use of renewables. With a few exceptions, all are on track to meet their goals and most are well ahead of schedule. In California, for example, the renewables goal has been raised repeatedly, to the same 50 percent by 2030 that Minnesota is contemplating. California’s Energy Commission estimates about 27 percent of electricity retail sales were served by renewable energy last year.

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