Energy Conservation and Optimization Act headed to governor’s desk

On the final day of the legislative session, the Senate passed the final conference committee report for the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act of 2021. The ECO Act is the result of three years of discussions and negotiations between stakeholders about the future of programs designed to use less energy and save Minnesotans money. Its passage will bring the largest update since 2007 to the state’s nearly 40-year-old energy conservation improvement program (CIP).

The bill increases the amount utilities must spend on energy conservation efforts and improvements for low-income households. It also provides a path for limited and efficient fuel-switching programs, which will allow utilities to switch to the use of another fuel that is more efficient, cost-effective, and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions. It increases the state’s energy savings goals, and completes a transition for energy conservation requirements from programs based on how much a utility spends on energy efficiency to programs that are based on the amount of energy savings that are provided for customers.

This year’s bill represents a broad level of consensus among a vast number of groups, including clean energy and environmental advocates, labor unions, investor- and consumer-owned utilities, state agencies, and consumer advocacy groups. After the conference committee reports was passed by both chambers, it was sent to the governor’s desk, where it awaits his signature. (HF 164)