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Workers from IPS Solar, a member business of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, install solar panels at a community solar garden in Edina, Minn. Minnesota is home to more than 59,000 clean energy jobs, according to the 2018 Clean Jobs Midwest Report. IMAGE: Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Gregg Mast, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota: Renewable energy creates jobs, lowers costs – and deserves a fresh look

MINNEAPOLIS – Across the region, the adoption of energy efficiency and clean energy solutions is booming. Here’s why business and community leaders should be paying attention. 

  • In Minnesota, renewable sources such as wind and solar power account for 25 percent of our state’s electricity generation – meeting our state’s Renewable Energy Standard a full seven years ahead of schedule.

Rapid advances in technology have driven down costs, speeding the deployment of clean energy. Over the past decade, there has been an 86 percent decline in the cost of solar and 67 percent in the cost of wind.

  • Thanks to the passage of innovative energy policies, Minnesota is home to the country’s largest community solar garden program. CSGs provide access to solar to a wide range of businesses, homeowners and others. Subscribers get a credit on their electricity bills for the share of the power produced by their local solar facility.

Today, more than 401 megawatts of capacity is being produced by the program, saving money for residential, commercial and public entities, including schools.

  • As costs continue to decline, clean energy jobs are on the rise. According to the 2018 Clean Jobs Midwest Report, Minnesota is home to more than 59,000 clean energy jobs – and 40 percent of those are spread out across Greater Minnesota.

These jobs are also growing two times faster than all other sectors of our state’s economy. The Midwest region, as a whole, is home to over 714,000 clean energy jobs.

At Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, my team and I work with our clean energy business members to share this economic success story with policymakers throughout the state. Clean energy solutions are diversifying our energy mix, increasing our competitiveness and helping local communities prosper in every corner of the state.

This is a story we enthusiastically share with policymakers and the general public.

The business case for cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy has never been stronger. Thanks to their ability to reduce costs, mitigate business risks and respond to consumer demand, clean energy solutions now are viewed as mainstream, not alternative.

Among the U.S. Fortune 100, 63 percent have an energy efficiency, renewable energy or greenhouse-gas-reduction target, as do 48 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500.  

Some of Minnesota’s biggest companies are leading the way. Target is the No. 1 U.S. corporation when it comes to on-site solar, with 203 megawatts of capacity installed across 436 of its 1,800 facilities.

The company also plans to install electric vehicle charging stations at more than 100 of its stores and properties, in addition to its many initiatives to reduce energy consumption. Ultimately, Target is working toward the goal of being 100 percent renewable overall. Why? It just makes good business sense.

Target is leading by example, but many smaller businesses are innovating in their own way. 75F, a Minnesota-based early stage company, is using the Internet of Things to deliver smart heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting solutions, delivering energy savings for building owners and managers.

This is just one example where energy efficiency technology helps to both improve productivity and reduce energy bills.

Business leaders also should watch for the coming battery storage boom. Minnesota is home to some smart companies developing innovative ways to use batteries and smart grids to help not only in the rapid deployment of renewables, but also to lower big power users’ energy bills.

Minnesota and the Midwest are well-positioned to seize the substantial economic opportunities provided by energy efficiency and clean energy. In fact, clean energy is transforming our lives and powering our economy forward at an unprecedented pace.

How will you be a part of this energy revolution?

Gregg Mast

Executive Director

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM)

Minneapolis

(612) 743-9157

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