Gov. Walz signs Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021

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On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing to celebrate the landmark Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021. The ECO Act will help Minnesota’s energy conservation programs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create local jobs across the state through electrical, heating and cooling, ventilation, and insulation installation projects in Minnesota homes and businesses.

According to the governor’s office, the ECO Act updates and expands Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). CIP helps Minnesota households and businesses use electricity and natural gas more efficiently, conserving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and lessening the need for new utility infrastructure.

"The ECO Act will ensure that Minnesota continues to be leader in energy policy," said Walz said in a release. "This nation-leading energy conservation legislation will help Minnesota families and small businesses save money, create good-paying jobs, and, most importantly, protect Minnesota’s environment for generations to come."

"Through the ECO Act, with investments in conservation, and through Minnesota’s Energy and Weatherization Assistance Programs, we are reducing the energy burden for Minnesotans who have been spending too much of their incomes to keep their homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter," Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said in the release. "The ECO Act expands our commitment to low-income consumers and puts Minnesota at the forefront of the Green Energy economy, helping to ensure that all Minnesotans benefit from our state’s energy policies."

"We know that when we make conservation investments in a home or business, it saves the home or business owner money. It reduces overall energy demands across the entire state," said Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold. "We also know that investing in energy conservation boosts the economy. For every $1 invested in energy conservation, there is a $3.75 return on investment for Minnesotans."

CIP changes include:

  • Expanding eligibility for low-income households.
  • Requiring energy efficiency improvements for public schools in utility plans.
  • Increasing conservation goals for investor-owned utilities.
  • Providing additional flexibility for cooperatives in meeting their conversation requirements and reducing paperwork requirements.

Through CIP, the ECO Act creates local jobs through electrical, heating and cooling, ventilation, and insulation installation projects across the state. These projects are typically designed and carried out by local businesses and installed by state-licensed contractors, using locally sourced products.

"ECO will help move Minnesota energy priorities in the right direction," said Sen. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City). "By expanding consumer choice, we can lower energy bills and our overall energy demand statewide, while also increasing our efficiency. This innovative policy change is good for consumers, small businesses, and energy providers and prepares Minnesota’s energy utilization for future technological advancements without picking winners or losers. I am happy that we could get this bipartisan legislation done for Minnesota."