Minnesota Needs A Climate Champion

State investment in clean electricity

Grade: D

It is not enough for the state to push private sector utilities toward clean electricity through regulations. Government must lead by example. Minnesota must invest money to speed the transition by powering public buildings and public vehicles with renewable electricity from solar and wind. 

Currently taxpayers pay huge electric bills for publicly-owned buildings. Investments in solar and energy efficiency by the state will both reduce climate pollution and reduce electric bills over the long term. 

Gov. Walz has not proposed investments at the scale needed.

What Governor Walz has Done:

  • Proposed spending some Renewable Development Account money on solar for schools. But he has set no specific goals for either statewide implementation or reductions of climate pollution. We need concrete and ambitious objectives, not vague assurances.

What Governor Walz should do:

  • Provide money in the budget to fund solar and energy efficiency at the needed scale on schools, other public buildings or on publicly-owned lands, prioritizing low-income communities, communities of color, and communities facing power plant transition. Gov. Walz should propose bonding dollars for solar on state owned buildings.
  • Provide funding to ensure that the benefits of a transition to 100% clean energy are shared equitably. Invest in workforce training and development, expand access to clean energy financing, and support communities with retiring fossil fuel plants.

More benefits for all Minnesotans:

Funding clean electricity projects will lead to creation of jobs for Minnesotans. These jobs should be family-sustaining jobs. Where possible they should be union jobs, and they must target communities most impacted by pollution, namely BIPOC and low-wealth communities, and communities that will lose jobs through the transitions away from fossil fuels. Currently, though, despite the fact that clean energy is one of the fastest growing industries in the state, clean energy jobs are not equally benefiting people of color. For example, Xcel Energy’s Minnesota workforce is 93% white, which mirrors racial demographics across the industry. We must diversify our workforce by creating training opportunities and job pathways for people of color and women.  Gov. Walz can help this happen by placing provisions on funding to achieve these goals.