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MN Tops in Midwest for Energy Efficiency

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In 2016, less than 40 percent of Minnesota's electric energy came from coal-fired plants. (Ferruccio Zanone/Flickr)
In 2016, less than 40 percent of Minnesota's electric energy came from coal-fired plants. (Ferruccio Zanone/Flickr)
 By Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN, Contact
October 12, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota gets the number one spot in the Midwest in a new report from the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy.

The state ranks ninth in the nation, up one place from last year.

The council comes up with its rankings by comparing states' building codes, transportation, appliance standards, utility programs and other state initiatives that encourage energy savings.

"In the U.S., a lot of the innovation and a lot of the driving forces behind energy efficiency really occur at the state level,” says Weston Berg an analyst with the council, who worked on the report. “We hope as part of the state scorecard, by tracking each state's efficiency policies, we can kind of create some friendly competition between states, as well as highlight some best practices."

The scorecard puts Massachusetts first and North Dakota last in terms of energy efficiency policies.

Will Nissen, director of energy performance with the Minnesota advocacy group Fresh Energy, says state and local policies are what encourage people to be energy conscious, citing recycling programs and low-interest loans for businesses that install energy retrofits.

"The cheapest and cleanest energy we have is what you don't use,” he states. “And so, if you don't use a kilowatt hour of electricity or a therm of natural gas, with at least the system we've had for a long time, a lot of that generation you're avoiding is polluting, it's fossil fuel based."

It's been 10 years since the bipartisan Next Generation Energy bill was signed into law.

Nissen says the 2007 energy law requires utilities to meet a clean energy standard. States that adopt these goals do best in energy efficiency.

"It's fantastic to see Minnesota as top in the Midwest and really the top anywhere between the two coasts, but you know, we want to do better next year," he states.

Nissen says the state leads by example, with energy efficient public buildings and vehicle fleets, and by paying attention to energy efficiency in state-funded contracts.


Best Practices