After another late-night addition to the agenda Senate Republicans passed their 2022 omnibus energy budget out of its first committee stop this week. Unlike the governor’s proposal that helps to ensure Minnesota is on track to leverage the federal funding available under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Republican proposal does very little to promote the adoption of clean energy and electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the state.
The Republican focuses on pushing through controversial policy provisions that have already been rejected in previous years, included in their bill is a provision to eliminate the state’s moratorium on new nuclear facilities. While they do fund a project to study the potential benefits and concerns of advanced nuclear technology, removing the moratorium is premature and threatens to raise the cost of Minnesotans’ energy bills during a time when the majority are already struggling to afford excessive costs.
Unlike the Republican proposal, however, the governor focused on preparing Minnesota to better compete with other states in the country for federal funding by dedicating $20 million to transform Minnesota’s energy and building infrastructure. Governor Walz also asked for $58.8 million to permanently lower Minnesotans’ energy bills by investing in weatherization assistance, and he sought to bring green energy innovation to the state by dedicating $34 million to establish a Green Bank for financing clean energy projects. These investments are critical as the state works to drastically cut its carbon emissions and combat climate change.
The funding in the bill for Solar for Schools is one of the few highlights so far, but with a $9 billion surplus, the $4.3 million in new general fund spending for the program is only roughly half of what the committee had supported earlier in the week. The program, established by the Legislature in 2021, is already incredibly popular across the entire state, and the portion of the program run through the Commerce Department already has too many requests for the funding they have available. Increased general fund spending for this program would only further benefit schools located in Greater Minnesota.
Because of the late addition of the omnibus bill to the committee’s agenda, very little testimony was taken on the bill before it was passed out of Senate Energy on a divided vote. DFLers spoke to the lack of provisions in the bill that move Minnesota closer to achieving carbon-free energy, and we will continue to advocate for a clean bill that helps us cut carbon emissions and mitigate climate change in the state. (SF 4269)