Governor Dayton’s state of the State address this Wednesday evening contained a few surprises, not least of which was his focus on climate change and renewable energy. With the change in the legislature to DFL control, most observers expected renewable energy advocates to move from playing defense to offense, but the Governor’s focus on these issues may raise these issues further up on the priority list. Here’s an excerpt from the Governor’s speech:
"No one can endure the severe droughts or floods of recent years; endure (or, some, enjoy) our milder, snow-scarce winters or lather on sunscreen to walk outdoors without being greatly alarmed. If you’re not, talk with my good friend and world-premier polar explorer, Will Steger, who is here tonight, about the drastic climate changes he has witnessed. Even more alarming is that our state and our nation are still not doing enough to reverse this path toward global catastrophe, before it is too late.
In Minnesota, we have made real progress in areas like energy conservation, more efficient farming and manufacturing practices, and the development and use of clean, renewable energy, especially wind energy, instead of polluting fossil fuels. The question is: are we progressing fast enough? Are we doing all we can to utilize other renewables, such as solar, and also to make Minnesota the best place to locate these new industries and their jobs? . . .
I challenge this Legislature to work again with our state’s visionary clean energy advocates, large energy providers, large energy users, other stakeholders, and my administration to use your past achievements as springboards for Minnesota’s next big leap toward a sustainable energy future."
No bills have been introduced in either body yet to pursue this agenda, but legislation to require a solar energy mandate (on top of the current renewable mandate) of as much as ten percent is expected, along with bills to significantly increase small, distributed generation including through increased use of renewables -- so stay tuned! What looked to be a quiet year on energy policy issues may get noisy after all.