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Gov. Walz signs "100 Percent by 2040" energy bill into law

Gov. Walz signs “100 Percent by 2040” energy bill into law
Gov. Walz signs “100 Percent by 2040” energy bill into law 00:39

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Gov. Tim Walz has signed a bill setting new climate goals for Minnesota into law. The law sets a benchmark requiring utilities offer customers 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.

The bill was a top priority for Democrats who control the Capitol, and moved out of both chambers of Minnesota's legislature on a party-line vote.

"Climate change impacts lives and livelihoods in every corner of our state," Walz said. "Minnesota will continue to lead the way on combatting climate change and we'll create clean energy jobs in the process. This bill is an essential investment in our future that will continue to pay off for generations to come."

Supporters say the bill will help curb climate change, but opponents allege it's unreliable and costly.

"We're really putting Minnesota's energy future, our economic future and our families' future at risk," Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) said at the time of the Minnesota House's passage.

Right now, renewable energy -- like wind, solar, and hydropower -- is the largest share of our state's power supply at 29% of all sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More than half all the electricity is already carbon-free with renewables and nuclear energy.

According to the Clean Energy States Alliance, 21 other states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have already established some kind of 100% clean-energy standards or goals, most with target dates between 2040 and 2050.

This year's bill aims to further shift utilities away from fossil fuels to wind and solar, but it also allows them to use hydropower, biomass, hydrogen and existing nuclear plants to go carbon-free. Utilities that can't quit coal or gas on their own could ask regulators to let them use "off ramps" to delay compliance, or they could use renewable energy credits to make up the difference.

Minnesota's biggest utility, Xcel Energy, supports the legislation, saying it fits with its own goals, even though company officials say they're not exactly sure yet how they'll get all the way to carbon-free by 2040. But the state's smaller rural electric cooperatives and municipal power systems say it would be a lot harder for them and that the costs to their customers will be high.

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