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Minnesota’s cleaner electricity generation

Minnesota has no in-state fossil fuel but abundant renewable resources, including wind, solar, and biomass. The state passed a renewable electricity standard in 2007 requiring that 28.5% of the state’s electricity use be generated with renewable resources by 2025. In response to state policy, our electricity production has become cleaner at a pace faster than the nation as a whole. Minnesota was the 6th largest state solar market in 2017 and the 3rd largest non-residential market. Minnesota ranked 7th in the nation for the share of electricity generated from wind energy. Solar and wind energy costs are decreasing rapidly due to technology advances. Due to increases in efficient and renewable generation, electricity generation is now second to transportation for carbon emissions. As renewable resources are paired with an increasing number of electric vehicles, carbon emissions within the transportation sector will also be reduced.

Minnesota homes are more efficient
More than 20% of the total energy used in Minnesota is consumed in our homes. Advances in heating and cooling systems, weatherization technology, and efficient lighting make newer and retrofitted homes more energy efficient. Appliances like refrigerators more than doubled in efficiency between 1987 and 2012. However, the prevalent use of new devices (tablets, smart phones, TVs, gaming consoles) is increasing overall household energy use. The graph at right shows the combined residential electric and natural gas consumption in comparison to gross domestic product and population growth.

Energy efficiency and conservation by homeowners can help cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and heat homes.

Every $1 spent on Conservation Improvement Programs returns $4 to Minnesota’s economy.

Transportation priorities
Fuel use has been steadily increasing over the last few years — almost back to peak 2004 levels as low fuel prices have led many people to purchase less fuel efficient vehicles. Transportation fuel is used as an indicator of air pollution and carbon emissions from transportation. For decades, Minnesota policy and investment has emphasized automobile travel. Mass transit, walking, and biking are available at some level across the state, but additional investment is needed to make these viable travel options for all Minnesotans.

Reducing fossil fuel use in transportation is directly connected to achieving the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets outlined in the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, which calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2025.

Fuel economy standards

In August 2018 the federal administration proposed rolling back higher fuel economy standards for auto manufactures. The higher standards were put in place in 2011 so that more fuel efficient vehicles were available to American families. According to NHTSA, weakening these fuel economy standards is forecasted to reduce the nationwide fuel economy of each new vehicle by up to eight miles per gallon in 2025.

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